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Prof. Carl S. Dowries 















I. Huxley's Life and Work vii 

II. The Selections xix 



Autobiography ; 3 

Letters 16 

On the Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge 28 
A Liberal Education: and where to find it . . . -47 

On a Piece of Chalk 74 

y Science and Art in Relation to Education .... 103 



Portrait of Huxley Frontispiece 


IN a letter written to his sister in 1850 Huxley said : " I 
don't know and I don't care whether I shall ever be what 
is called a great man. I shall leave my mark somewhere, 
and it shall be clear and distinct 

T. H. H. his mark. 

and free from the abominable blur of cant, humbug, and 
self-seeking which surrounds everything in this present 
world that is to say, supposing that I am not already un- 
consciously tainted myself, a result of which I have a mor- 
bid dread." We shall not debate the question whether 
Huxley was " what is called a great man," but no one fa- 
miliar with his life and work can doubt for a moment that 
he has left his mark or that it is " clear and distinct." He 
had the good fortune to find his work early a rare piece 
of good fortune and never to doubt that he had found it. 
For just fifty years, from 1845 to 1895, he wrought hap- 
pily and usefully. When he died he had the satisfaction of 
knowing that his fame was secure and that he had added to 
the knowledge and welfare of his fellow-men. 

Thomas Henry Huxley was born of good but poor 
parents at Ealing, a village not far from London, on May 
4, 1825. He told Charles Kingsley that he was "kicked 
into the world a boy without guide or training, or with 
worse than none." He tells us in his Autobiography of 


viii Introduction 

the wretched little school that he attended, and in after 
years used to say that " he had two years of a Pandemo- 
nium of a school (between eight and ten) and after that 
neither help nor sympathy in any intellectual direction till 
he reached manhood." 

He was always fond of reading and used to browse at 
random in his father's library. " When a boy of twelve," 
his son and biographer writes, " he used to light his candle 
before dawn, pin a blanket around his shoulders, and sit 
up in bed to read Hutton's Geology." His tastes were 
scientific but he did not confine his reading to science. He 
was still a child when he read Sir William Hamilton's 
Philosophy of the Unconditioned, but his comment on it is 
not that of a child: "It stamped on my mind the strong 
conviction that on even the most solemn and important 
of questions, men are apt to take cunning phrases for an- 

But Carlyle had the most lasting influence upon him 
during these formative years. It was interest in Carlyle 
that led him to study German, just as at the age of fifty- 
three he learned Greek so that he might read Aristotle in 
the original. During these years he also taught himself 
French and Italian. Of Carlyle's Sartor Resartus he 
wrote : " It led me to know that a deep sense of religion 
was compatible with the entire absence of theology." 
Carlyle taught him also a hatred of shams and a love of 
uncompromising truthfulness that remained a passion with 
him as long as he lived. " If wife and child," he said, 
" and name and fame were all lost to me, one after an- 
other, still I would not lie. . . . The longer I live, the 
more obvious it is to me that the most sacred act of a 
man's life is to say and to feel, ' I believe such and such to 
be true.' All the greatest rewards and all the heaviest 
penalties of existence cling about that act." 

Huxley's Life and Work ix 

After serving as assistant under one or two physicians 
he received an appointment in 1842 to one of the free 
scholarships at the Charing Cross Hospital in London. He 
was now seventeen years old and his application for ad- 
mission to Charing Cross certified that " He has a fair 
knowledge of Latin, reads French with facility, and knows 
something of German. He has also made consider- 
able progress in mathematics, having, as far as he has ad- 
vanced, a thorough not a superficial knowledge of the 
subject." In 1845 he won his M.B. (Bachelor of Medi- 
cine) at the University of London and also a gold medal 
for proficiency in anatomy and physiology. He tells us 
also that in this year he published his first scientific paper, 
"a very little one," in the Medical Gazette', but he does 
not tell us that this paper announced a permanent contribu- 
tion to anatomy. The youthful investigator had found a 
hitherto undiscovered membrane in the root of the human 
hair and this membrane is now known as " Huxley's layer." 

In December of 1846 Huxley left England as assistant 
surgeon on board her Majesty's ship, the Rattlesnake. 
The cruise lasted four years, three being spent in Aus- 
tralian waters. It was on a voyage of this sort that 
Charles Darwin and Joseph Dalton Hooker had laid the 
foundations of their scientific careers. Indeed we can 
hardly imagine a better scientific training than such a 
voyage afforded. The young scientist had to depend 
largely on his own resources. He had to collect and dis- 
sect without the aid of many books. He was confronted 
daily by forms of marine life either unknown or at least 
unclassified. But it was just the discipline that Huxley 
needed and wanted. When he returned in 1850, Edward 
Forbes, the best English authority on star-fishes, examined 
his collection and wrote to him, saying: "I can say with- 
out exaggeration that more important or more complete 

x Introduction 

zoological researches have never been conducted during 
any voyage of discovery in the southern hemisphere. The 
course you have taken of directing your attention mainly 
to impreservable creatures, and to those orders of the 
animal kingdom respecting which we have least informa- 
tion, and the care and skill with which you have conducted 
elaborate dissections and microscopic examinations of the 
curious creatures you were so fortunate as to meet with, 
necessarily gives a peculiar and unique character to your 
researches, since thereby they fill up gaps in our knowledge 
of the animal kingdom. This is more important, since 
such researches have been almost always neglected during 
voyages of discovery." 

But Huxley's cruise in Australian waters had another 
result. Three weeks after his return to England, he 
wrote to his sister, Mrs. J. G. Scott, who was then living 
in Nashville, Tennessee: " I have a woman's element in me. 
I hate the incessant struggle and toil to cut one an- 
other's throat among us men, and I long to be able to meet 
with some one in whom I can place implicit confidence, 
whose judgment I can respect, and yet who will not laugh 
at my most foolish weaknesses, and in whose love I can 
forget all care. All these conditions I have fulfilled in 
Nettie. With a strong natural intelligence, and knowl- 
edge enough to understand and sympathize with my aims, 
with the firmness of a man when necessary, she combines 
the gentleness of a very woman and the honest simplicity 
of a child, and then she loves me well, as well as I love 
her, and you know I love but few in the real meaning of 
the word, perhaps, but two she and you . . . The 
worst of it is I have no ambition, except as means to an 
end, and that end is the possession of a sufficient income 
to marry upon. I assure you I would not give two straws 
for all the honors and titles in the world. A worker I 

Huxley's Life and Work xi 

must always be it is my nature but if I had 400 a 
year I would never let my name appear to anything I did 
or shall ever do. It would be glorious to be a voice work- 
ing in secret and free from all those personal motives 
that have actuated the best." 

The woman thus charmingly referred to was Miss 
Henrietta Anne Heathorn, whom he had met in Australia 
in 1848. But not till 1855 could he write: "I terminate 
my Baccalaureate and take my degree of M.A. trimony 
(isn't that atrocious?) on Saturday, July 21." He had 
served as long for her as Jacob thought to serve for 
Rachel, but during their forty years of married life he 
found in her his best comforter and wisest counselor. 
What he said of her in 1848 he could say with added 
assurance in 1895: "I never met with so sweet a temper, 
so self-sacrificing and affectionate a disposition, or so pure 
and womanly a mind." Twelve years after his marriage 
he was visited by a German, Dr. Dohrn, who wrote: 
" I have been reading several chapters of Mill's Utili- 
tarianism and have found the word ' happiness ' occurring 
very often. If / had to give anybody a definition of this 
much debated word, I should only say, 'Go and see the 
Huxley family.' " 

His life was very busy now, but he found time in the 
summer of 1876 to visit America and to deliver the in- 
augural address at the opening of the Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity in Baltimore. He received an enthusiastic wel- 
come, and the letters that he sent from America are 
among the most interesting that he ever wrote. The 
little tug-boats in the harbor of New York seemed espe- 
cially to interest him. " If I were not a man," he said, 
" I think I should like to be a tug." On the material 
greatness of America he remarked : " I cannot say that I 
am in the slightest degree impressed by your bigness or 

xii Introduction 

your material resources, as such. Size is not grandeur; 
territory does not make a nation. The great issue, about 
which hangs a true sublimity and the terror of overhang- 
ing fate, is, What are you going to do with all these 
things? The one condition of success, your sole safe- 
guard, is the moral worth and intellectual clearness of the 
individual citizen. Education cannot give these, but it 
can cherish them and bring them to the front in whatever 
station of society they are to be found, and the universities 
ought to be and may be the fortresses of the higher life of 
the nation." 

Huxley was never very strong. In 1888 he wrote to a 
friend : " Dame Nature has given me a broad hint that I 
have had my innings, and, for the rest of my time, must 
be content to look on at the players." The essays alone, 
however, that he wrote after 1888 would have given him 
a place among the intellectual leaders of the century. 
Three days before his death he writes as jauntily as ever: 
" At present I don't feel at all like ' sending in my 
checks,' and without being over sanguine I rather incline 
to think that my native toughness will get the best of it." 
The end came quietly on June 29, 1895. At his request 
these lines, written by Mrs. Huxley, were inscribed upon 
his tombstone: 

"Be not afraid, ye waiting hearts that weep; 
For still He giveth His beloved sleep, 
And if an endless sleep He wills, so best." 

Of Huxley's busy career the Autobiography gives us 
only glimpses here and there. We learn from it, however, 
that his chief interests lay in " the working out of the 
wonderful unity of plan in the thousands and thousands 
of diverse living constructions " of nature, and in promot- 
ing " the application of scientific methods of investigation 

Huxley's Life and Work xiii 

to all the problems of Kfe." In other words, Huxley 
spent his life in forwarding science and education. He 
was not only a naturalist but a sociologist. Was he 
greater, now, in discovery or in application? He was 
great in both but greater, we think, in the latter. Let 
us see. 

As a scientific discoverer, Huxley can never rank with 
Newton or Darwin. But if these are immortals of the 
first rank, Huxley is as certainly an immortal of the second 
rank. It is interesting to see how eager Darwin was 
to know how The Origin of Species, Darwin's greatest 
work, would impress Huxley. Darwin called Huxley his 
" general agent," and Huxley called himself " Darwin's 
bulldog." The Origin of Species appeared in 1859 and 
Darwin wrote: " If I can convert Huxley I shall be con- 
tent." With one or two reservations, Huxley was con- 
verted and championed the book the rest of his life. But 
this association with Darwin and with Darwin's work has 
caused most readers to overlook Huxley's own contribu- 
tions to science. These may be summarized in untechnical 
language under five heads. 

We have already seen that at the age of twenty Huxley 
discovered an unknown layer in the human hair now 
known by his name. More important, however, than 
"Huxley's layer" was his paper published in 1849 on 
The Anatomy and the Affinities of the Family of the 
Medusa. The medusae are jelly-fishes and their classifica- 
tion had been in a state of chaos till Huxley succeeded in 
finding " unity of plan " not only in them but in the entire 
family to which they belong. He discovered that all 
medusae are built up of two cell-layers, two " foundation- 
membranes," inclosing a stomach cavity. He did not 
know then how his discovery would help to prepare the 
way for Darwin's work. Scientists, however, knew al- 

xiv Introduction 

ready that all backboned animals passed through certain 
regular and definite stages in their progress from the 
embryo to the adult state, but Huxley showed that all 
backboned animals passed through the medusa:; stage, that 
is, they also exhibited two corresponding " foundation- 
membranes." He had thus laid a foundation on which 
other scientists were soon to build. 

Another original view appeared in The Cell Theory 
(1853). Before this time scientists had believed, as many 
still believe, the cell to be the ultimate life-unit. In 
other words, the cell was life reduced to its lowest terms. 
It was the smallest particle of life just as the atom is con- 
sidered the smallest particle of matter. Huxley contended 
that the real life-element was not the cell but protoplasm, 
that protoplasm was the raw stuff that built up the cell 
just as the cell built up the body. He compared proto- 
plasm to the sea, cells to the numberless shells and weeds 
that the sea tosses up. While this theory has not been 
universally accepted it has not been conclusively over- 

But perhaps Huxley's best claim to popular recognition 
as a scientist is that he discovered, or at least was the first 
to announce, the pedigree of the horse. In 1870 he said 
that if there were strong reasons to believe that our mod- 
ern one-toed horse had a remote ancestor with three toes, 
there were still stronger reasons to believe that he had 
a still more remote ancestor with five toes. When Hux- 
ley visited America in 1876, Professor O. C. Marsh of 
Yale University showed him the fossil of a horse with 
four complete toes on the front leg and three on the hind 
leg. Huxley now re-affirmed his theory of a five-toed 
horse, " in which, if the doctrine of evolution is well- 
founded, the whole series must have taken its origin." 
Two months later Professor Marsh actually discovered the 

Huxley's Life and Work xv 

fossil of an American horse with five toes. The honor of 
the find belongs, therefore, by discovery to Professor 
Marsh, and only by prophecy to Huxley. 

One other contribution to anatomy may be said to close 
Huxley's achievements as a discoverer. It was a generally 
accepted belief that the skull was merely the expanded 
backbone. A German naturalist, named Oken, while 
walking in the Harz Mountains, had picked up the dried 
skull of a sheep, and it suddenly occurred to him that this 
skull was nothing but a series of expanded vertebrae 
molded together. Oken's view was accepted in England 
till Huxley overthrew it. He examined the skulls of 
fishes, beasts, and men, and found that Oken's theory 
was not borne out by the facts. " It may be true," he 
said, " that there is a primitive identity of structure be- 
tween the spinal or vertebral column and the skull, but it 
is no more true that the adult skull is a modified vertebral 
column than it would be to affirm that the vertebral 
column is a modified skull." 

Let us turn now to Huxley's services in the cause of 
education. If Darwin outranks him as a scientist, he 
outranks Darwin just as incontestably as an educator. 
His interests were more varied than Darwin's, his per- 
ceptions quicker, his personality more vigorous, his human 
sympathies broader, and his command of the resources 
of the English language far superior. If Huxley had done 
nothing more than contribute to modern thought the 
definition of a liberal education found on pages 54 and 55 
of this book, he would be remembered at least to the ex- 
tent of that stimulating paragraph. But he did far more. 
He talked and wrote and worked unceasingly to make his 
educational ideals prevail. These ideals are scattered 
through his essays and lectures and letters, but the funda- 
mentals may be easily summarized. 

xvi Introduction 

The function of education as a national concern should 
be, he contended, to provide " a ladder reaching from the 
gutter to the university, along which every child in the 
three kingdoms should have the chance of climbing as far 
as he was fit to go." All children, but especially town- 
bred children, should be taught the simpler forms of 
gymnastics. After reading, writing, and arithmetic, the 
emphasis should be put upon one or more of the natural 
sciences, because in these the faculties of observation and 
inquiry are disciplined. The value of drawing, he thought, 
could not be exaggerated, " because it gives the means of 
training the young in attention and accuracy, the two 
things in which all mankind are more deficient than in any 
other mental quality whatever." 

Women are not excluded from his scheme of education 
but expressly included. "The mind of the average girl," 
he wrote, " is less different from that of the average boy, 
than"*the mind of one boy is from that of another; so that 
whatever argument justifies a given education for all boys, 
justifies its application to girls as well. So far from im- 
posing artificial restriction upon the acquirement of knowl- 
edge by women, throw every facility in their way. . . . 
They will be none the less sweet for a little wisdom; and 
the golden hair will not curl less gracefully outside the 
head by reason of there being brains within. . . . Let 
them, if they so please, become merchants, barristers, 
politicians. Let them have a fair field, but let them 
understand as the necessary correlative, that they are to 
have no favor. . . . And the result? Women will 
find their place and it will neither be that in which they 
have been held, nor that to which some of them aspire." 

Literature should have an important place because " an 
exclusively-scientific training will bring about a mental 
twist as surely as an exclusively literary training. For 

Huxley's Life and Work xvii 

literature is the greatest of all sources of refined pleasure, 
and there is scope enough for the purposes of liberal educa- 
tion in the study of the rich treasures of our own lan- 
guage alone. ... I have said before, and I repeat it 
here, that if a man cannot get literary culture of the high- 
est kind out of his Bible, and Chaucer, and Shakespeare, 
he cannot get it out of anything, and I would assuredly 
devote a very large portion of the time of every English 
child to the careful study of models of English writing 
of such varied and wonderful kind as we possess, and, 
what is still more important, and still more neglected, 
the habit of using that language with precision, with 
force, and with art." 

Moral training should not be neglected. Since each 
child is " a member of a social and political organization 
of great complexity, and has, in future, to fit himself 
into that organization, or be crushed by it, it is needful 
not only that boys and girls should be made acquainted 
with the elementary laws of conduct, but that their 
affections should be trained so as to love with all their 
hearts that conduct which tends to the attainment of the 
highest good for themselves and their fellow-men, and to 
hate with all their hearts that opposite course of action 
which is fraught with evil." As his own children were 
taught the Bible, he advocated its use in all elementary 
schools. He saw no way in which " the religious feeling, 
which is the essential basis of conduct, was to be kept up, 
in the present utterly chaotic state of opinion, without the 
use of the Bible." 

Then follows this eloquent passage: " Consider the great 
historical fact that, for three centuries, this book has been 
woven into the life of all that is best and noblest in Eng- 
lish history; that it has become the national epic of Britain, 
and is as familiar to noble and simple, from John-o'- 

xviii Introduction 

Groat's House to Land's End, as Dante and Tasso once 
were to the Italians; that it is written in the noblest and 
purest English, and abounds in exquisite beauties of mere 
literary form; and, finally, that it forbids the veriest 
hind who never left his village to be ignorant of the exist- 
ence of other countries and other civilizations, and of a 
great past, stretching back to the furthest limits of the old- 
est nations in the world. By the study of what other book 
could children be so much humanized and made to feel 
that each figure in that vast historical procession fills, like 
themselves, but a momentary space in the interval between 
two eternities; and earns the blessings or the curses of all 
time, according to its effort to do good and hate evil, 
even as they also are earning their payment for their 

Huxley's success as an educational leader was due not 
to natural gifts as a speaker or writer but to depth of con- 
viction, to steady growth, and to persistent self-improve- 
ment. " I have a great love and respect for my native 
tongue," he wrote in 1891, "and take great pains to use 
it properly. Sometimes I write essays half-a-dozen 
times before I can get them into the proper shape; 
and I believe I become more fastidious as I grow older." 
His creed was: "Say that which has to be said in such 
language that you can stand cross-examination on each 

His best writing is in his letters, where his humor, his 
abounding vigor, his nimble fancy, his quick feeling for 
analogy, his wide command of illustration, his passion for 
directness find their amplest exhibition. He brought into 
his writings the same " unity of plan " which he found 
" in the thousands and thousands of diverse living con- 
structions " that surrounded him. The force and vivid- 
ness of his style find their explanation in the fact that he 

The Selections xix 

was always an investigator and thus always a learner. 
No man could vivify and humanize the claims of science 
as Huxley has done unless he was himself invigorated by a 
sense of daily growth and achievement. The lesson of 
his style at last is not, Study science that you may learn to 
write clearly, but, Think for yourself that your message 
may come with force, directness, and conviction. 



THE selections that follow have been chosen with 
three ends in view : ( I ) To throw light on the char- 
acter and services of Huxley; (2) to stimulate an inter- 
est in the principles and problems of modern science; and 
(3) to furnish examples of clear, flexible, forceful prose. 
It will be seen that the Autobiography is an admirable 
example of narration, that the Letters furnish still more 
interesting examples of both narration and description, 
and that the Essays confine themselves almost wholly to 
exposition and argumentation. The selections exemplify, 
therefore, the four literary types or kinds of discourse. 

What follows is intended to serve as an introduction 
not only to the selections themselves but also to the Notes 
and Comment and to the Questions and Topics for Study. 

I. AUTOBIOGRAPHY. On March 2, 1889, Huxley 
wrote to his wife: "A man who is bringing out a series 
of portraits of celebrities, with a sketch of their career 
attached, has bothered me out of my life for something 
to go with my portrait, and to escape the abominable bad 
taste of some of the notices, I have done that. I shall 
show it to you before it goes back to Engel in proof." 

xx Introduction 

To Engel he wrote: "You are really the most perti- 
naciously persuasive of men. When you first wrote to me, 
I said I would have nothing whatever to do with any- 
thing you might please to say about me, that I had a 
profound objection to write about myself, and that I could 
not see what business the public had with my private 
life. I think I even expressed to you my complete sym- 
pathy with Dr. Johnson's desire to take Boswell's life 
when he heard of the latter's occupation with his biography. 

" Undeterred by all this, you put before me the alterna- 
tive of issuing something that may be all wrong, unless 
I furnish you with something authoritative; I do not say 
all right, because autobiographies are essentially works of 
fiction, whatever biographies may be. So I yield, and 
send you what follows, in the hope that those who find it 
to be mere egotistical gossip will blame you and not me." 

The Autobiography was written, then, in 1889, six 
years before Huxley's death. It was published in Method 
and Results (1893), which is volume one of Huxley's 
Collected Essays. Huxley was often urged to write a 
longer sketch of his life, but seemed to think it not worth 
the time. His best autobiography is to be found in the 
letters published in The Life and Letters of Thomas 
Henry Huxley, by his son, Leonard Huxley (American 
edition, 2 volumes, New York, 1901). 

2. LETTERS. These letters, dating from 1852 to 1892, 
are really a continuation of the Autobiography, no form 
of literature being as truly autobiographic as the letter. 
They present Huxley the man, Huxley the scientist, 
Huxley the public-spirited citizen. The frank expression 
of his hopes and ideals, the impressions made upon him 
by the funerals of the Duke of Wellington and Tenny- 
son, his immediate recognition of the significance of 
Darwin's great work, his interesting description of the 

The Selections xxi 

day spent on Mount Vesuvius, his magnanimous estimate 
of Pasteur's services, the sturdy common sense of his ad- 
vice to a young man all these supplement the Auto- 
biography at vital points. The style of these letters is 
notable, too, for its freedom and flexibility, and for a 
certain rapidity of thought which Huxley said he owed to 
his mother. 

KNOWLEDGE. This lay sermon was delivered in St. Mar- 
tin's Hall, London, January 7, 1866. It was published 
in Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews (1870), and 
republished in the first volume of Collected Essays. Hux- 
ley had spoken in St. Martin's Hall twelve years before 
on The Educational Value of the Natural History Sci- 
ences. The earlier address marked the beginning of 
Huxley's persistent endeavor to secure for science its 
rightful place in the educational system of England. The 
two addresses are strikingly alike. Of the first (now 
published in the third volume of Collected Essays) Huxley 
said : " It contains some crudities, which I repudiated when 
the lecture was first reprinted, more than twenty years 
ago ; but it will be seen that much of what I have had to 
say, later on in life, is merely a development of the 
propositions enunciated in this early and sadly imperfect 
piece of work." One passage, at least, in the earlier 
essay deserves reproduction : " So far as I can arrive at 
any clear comprehension of the matter, science is not, 
as many would seem to suppose, a modification of the 
black art, suited to the tastes of the nineteenth century, 
and flourishing mainly in consequence of the decay of the 
Inquisition. Science is, I believe, nothing but trained 
and organized common sense, differing from the latter 
only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit." 

The address here reproduced might be called The 

xxii Introduction 

Cultural vs. the Utilitarian Value of Science. It was 
not delivered to working men, and is hardly so popular 
in style or so practical in purpose as are the two follow- 
ing addresses. Its theme is the desirableness, not any par- 
ticular method, of improving natural knowledge. The 
two leading thoughts that science not only provides ma- 
terial comforts but (i) implants great ideas and (2) 
inculcates a higher type of ethics are presented with 
great clearness. The second point, however, can hardly 
be considered as proved. The introduction to the essay 
proper, though a trifle long, is a model of its kind. 

This was the opening address that Huxley delivered as 
Principal of the South London Working Men's College 
on January 4, 1868. It was published in Lay Sermons, 
Addresses, and Reviews ( 1870) and republished in the third 
volume of Collected Essays. This address differs radically 
in method from the preceding. It is a presentation by 
means of a carefully formulated definition. If the defini- 
tion of the liberally educated man be conceded, where can 
such an education be found? What, then, is needed? 

This lecture and the following, says Mr. Leonard 
Huxley, "seem to me to mark the maturing of his style 
into that mastery of clear expression for which he delib- 
erately labored, the saying exactly what he meant, neither 
too much nor too little. ... Be clear, though you 
may be convicted of error. If you are clearly wrong, you 
will run up against a fact some time and get set right. 
If you shuffle with your subject, and study chiefly to use 
language which will give a loophole of escape either way, 
there is no hope for you. This was the secret of his 
lucidity." This may be the secret of Huxley's lucidity, 
but lucidity alone is not the distinguishing characteristic 
of Huxley's style. His style is more than lucid. Its 

The Selections xxiii 

lucidity is vitalized by conviction and enthusiasm. These 
are personal or rather, emotional traits, while lucidity 
is purely intellectual. Euclid and Blackstone are lucid; 
Macaulay and Huxley are vivid. 

Huxley began his lectures to working men in 1855. " I 
am sick of the dilettante class," he wrote, " and mean to 
try what I can do with these hard-handed fellows who 
live among facts." Only working men were admitted, 
though a clerk once secured admission by calling himself 
a " driver." He was in fact a " quill-driver." The at- 
tendance and attention were equally gratifying, and Hux- 
ley exerted himself to the utmost to make these lectures 
a power for right thinking and right living. They 
represent him at his best in the spoken presentation of 
scientific truth. 

5. ON A PIECE OF CHALK. This lecture was de- 
livered to the working men of Norwich during the meet- 
ing of the British Association in 1 868. It was published 
in Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews (1870), and 
republished in the eighth volume of Collected Essays. An 
interesting reference to Mrs. Huxley's good judgment is 
made by Huxley in connection with the proof-sheets of 
this lecture. He wrote to her from Norwich, August 23, 
1866: "I met Grove who edits Macmillan, at the soiree. 
He pulled the proof of my lecture out of his pocket and 
said : ' Look here, there is one paragraph in your lecture 
I can make neither top nor tail of. I can't understand 
what it means.' I looked to where his finger pointed, 
and behold it was the paragraph you objected to when I 
read you the lecture on the seashore ! I told him, and said 
I should confess, however set up it might make you." 

" The address is noteworthy," says Mr. J. R. Ains- 
worth Davis, " in a variety of ways. For one thing it 
marks the increasing interest which men of science were 

xxiv Introduction 

beginning to take in deep-sea life, and which culminated 
in the equipment and despatch of the Challenger expedi- 
tion towards the end of 1872." Interest in deep-sea 
problems, it may be said, had been greatly stimulated by 
the publication in 1855 of Matthew Fontaine Maury's 
Physical Geography of the Sea. This book was re- 
printed in England, where it passed through more than 
twenty editions. Huxley's address is noteworthy also 
as a perfect example of how a thinker can take a seemingly 
trivial subject and make it " a window into the infinite." 
Huxley's Piece of Chalk belongs with Tennyson's Flower 
in the Crannied Wall. 

TION. This lecture was delivered at a meeting of the 
Liverpool Institution in 1882 and published in the third 
volume of Collected Essays. It forms a fitting conclusion 
to our selections because Huxley here summarizes his 
views about education, defends his position against the 
charge of one-sidedness, re-affirms what he has said about 
science, and then talks interestingly and helpfully about 
literature in general, about grammar, drawing, English 
literature in particular, English composition, the value of 
translations in fact, " all the essentials of education for 
an English child." 

In simplicity of style, in maturity of thought, in range 
and variety of topics discussed, in autobiographic signifi- 
cance, in all the elements of clear and forceful exposition, 
this lecture outranks (in the editor's opinion) all that 
have preceded it. It is, therefore, more than a conclusion 
to our selections: it is, in its way, a summary and a 


THE best account of Huxley's life and varied activities 
is The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, by 
his son, Leonard Huxley, in two volumes (London, 
1900). The American edition is published by D. Apple- 
ton and Company, New York. This is one of the most 
interesting and stimulating of modern biographies. The 
whole modern scientific movement is reflected in it. A 
good book, made of gleanings from The Life and Letters, 
is Thomas Henry Huxley, by Edward Clodd, to whom 
some of the Huxley letters were written. This /olume 
is number eight in the Modern English Writers Series 
(Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, 1902). Clodd 
discusses Huxley in successive chapters as Man (the best 
chapter), Discoverer, Interpreter, Controversialist, and 
Constructor, there being no chapter on Huxley the 
Writer. Chalmers Mitchell's Thomas Henry Huxley: 
A Sketch of His Life and Work, and George Smalley's 
Mr. Huxley (published in Scribner's Magazine, October, 
1895) are interesting presentations from different points 
of view, but they are less significant since the appearance 
of The Life and Letters. Fiske's Reminiscences of Hux- 
ley (in The Atlantic Monthly, February, 1901) is an 
eminently readable sketch of Huxley the man. The best 
sketch of Huxley, as a scientist, is Thomas H. Huxley, 
by J. R. Ainsworth Davis (London and New York, 
1907). A complete list of obituary notices and personal 
reminiscences will be found in Poole's Index to Periodical 


xxvi Descriptive Bibliography 

Literature, Third Supplement, 1892-1896, and Fourth 
Supplement, 1897-1902. 

Huxley's writings (essays, books, and scientific 
memoirs) form Appendix III in The Life and Letters 
and cover nineteen pages. Only the more significant 
books need be mentioned here. The dates are those of 
first editions: 

1863. Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. 

The main contention of the book is thus summarized on 
page 67: "Without question, the mode of origin and 
the early stages of the development of man are iden- 
tical with those of the animals immediately below 
him in the scale: without a doubt, in these respects, he 
is far nearer the Apes than the Apes are to the Dog." 

1866. Lessons in Elementary Physiology. 

This has proved the most popular of Huxley's books. 
Before his death it had passed into its fourth edition 
and been reprinted twenty-eight times. 

1870. Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews. 

The fifteen chapters cover the years from 1854 to 
1870. The volume includes the first three addresses 
reprinted in this book. 

1877. American Addresses. 

These addresses are good illustrations of how scientific 
accuracy may be not only joined with but vitalized 
by imagination. They discuss university education, 
creation, evolution, and methods of biological study. 
The lecture On the Study of Biology, though included 
in American Addresses, was not delivered until after 
Huxley's return to England. 

1878. Hume. 

Though this book appeared in the English Men of 
Letters Series, the emphasis is naturally upon Hume 
the philosopher. " It is assuredly one of Hume's 
greatest merits," says Huxley on page 63, " that he 
clearly recognized the fact that philosophy is based 
upon psychology ; and that the inquiry into the con- 
tents and the operations of the mind must be con- 
ducted upon the same principles as a physical investiga- 

Descriptive Bibliography xxvii 

tion, if what he calls the ' moral philosopher ' would 
attain results of as firm and definite a character as 
those which reward the ' natural philosopher.' " 

1893. Evolution and Ethics. 

Huxley's views on this subject are tersely stated in a 
letter of March 23, 1894: "There are two very dif- 
ferent questions which people fail to discriminate. 
One is whether evolution accounts for morality, the 
other whether the principle of evolution in general 
can be adopted as an ethical principle. The first, of 
course, I advocate, and have constantly insisted upon. 
The second I deny, and reject all so-called evolutional 
ethics based upon it." 

1893-1894. Collected Essays. 

These nine volumes contain all of Huxley's writings 
that he cared to preserve, except the more technical 

1898-1903. The Scientific Memoirs of Thomas Henry Huxley. 
These, the purely scientific works of Huxley, were 
edited in five volumes by Michael Foster and E. 
Ray Lankester. 




And when I consider, in one view, the many things . . . 
which I have upon my hands, I feel the burlesque of being 
employed in this manner at my time of life. But, in another 
view, and taking in all circumstances, these things, as trifling 
as they may appear, no less than things of greater importance, 5 
seem to be put upon me to do. Bishop Butler to the Duchess 
of Somerset. 

THE "many things" to which the Duchess's corre- 
spondent here refers are the repairs and improvements 
of the episcopal seat at Auckland. I doubt if the great 10 
apologist, greater in nothing than in the simple dignity 
of his character, would have considered the writing an 
account of himself as a thing which could be put upon 
him to do whatever circumstances might be taken in. 
But the good bishop lived in an age when a man might 15 
write books and yet be permitted to keep his private exist- 
ence to himself; in the pre-Boswellian epoch, when the 
germ of the photographer lay concealed in the distant 
future, and the interviewer who pervades our age was an 
unforeseen, indeed unimaginable, birth of time. 20 

At present, the most convinced believer in the aphorism 
" Bene qu'i latuit, bene vixit" is not always able to act 
up to it. An importunate person informs him that his 
portrait is about to be published and will be accompanied 
by a biography which the importunate person proposes to 25 
write. The sufferer knows what that means; either he 

4 Selections from Huxley 

undertakes to revise the "biography" or he does not. In 
the former case, he makes himself responsible ; in the latter, 
he allows the publication of a mass of more or less ful- 
some inaccuracies for which he will be held responsible 
5 by those who are familiar with the prevalent art of self- 
advertisement. On the whole, it may be better to get 
over the " burlesque of being employed in this manner " 
and do the thing himself. 

It was by reflections of this kind that, some years ago, I 
10 was led to write and permit the publication of the sub- 
joined sketch. 

I was born about eight o'clock in the morning on the 
4th of May, 1825, at Ealing, which was, at that time, as 
quiet a little country village as could be found within 

15 half-a-dozen miles of Hyde Park Corner. Now it is a 
suburb of London with, I believe, 30,000 inhabitants. 
My father was one of the masters in a large semi-public 
school which at one time had a high reputation. I am not 
aware that any portents preceded my arrival in this world, 

20 but, in my childhood, I remember having a traditional 
account of the manner in which I lost the chance of an 
endowment of great practical value. The windows of 
my mother's room were open, in consequence of the un- 
usual warmth of the weather. For the same reason, prob- 

25 ably, a neighboring beehive had swarmed, and the new 
colony, pitching on the window-sill, was making its way 
into the room when the horrified nurse shut down the sash. 
If that well-meaning woman had only abstained from her 
ill-timed interference, the swarm might have settled on 

30 my lips, and I should have been endowed with that mel- 
lifluous eloquence which, in this country, leads far more 
surely than worth, capacity, or honest work, to the high- 
est places in church and state. But the opportunity was 

Autobiography 5 

lost, and I have been obliged to content myself through 
life with saying what I mean in the plainest of plain lan- 
guage, than which, I suppose, there is no habit more 
ruinous to a man's prospects of advancement. 
^ Why I was christened Thomas Henry I do not know; 5 
but it is a curious chance that my parents should have 
fixed for my usual denomination upon the name of that par- 
ticular Apostle with whom I have always felt most sym- 
pathy. Physically and mentally I am the son of my mother 
so completely even down to peculiar movements of the 10 
hands, which made their appearance in me as I reached 
the age she had when I noticed them that I can hardly 
find any trace of my father in myself, except an inborn 
faculty for drawing, which unfortunately, in my case, has 
never been cultivated, a hot temper, and that amount of 15 
tenacity of purpose which unfriendly observers sometimes 
call obstinacy. 

My mother was a slender brunette, of an emotional 
and energetic temperament, and possessed of the most 
piercing black eyes I ever saw in a woman's head. With 20 
no more education than other women of the middle classes 
in her day, she had an excellent mental capacity. Her 
most distinguishing characteristic, however, was rapidity 
of thought. If one ventured to suggest she had not taken 
much time to arrive at any conclusion, she would say: 25 
" I cannot help it, things flash across me." That pecu- 
liarity has been passed on to me in full strength; it has 
often stood me in good stead ; it has sometimes played me 
sad tricks, and it has always been a danger. But, after 
all, if my time were to come over again, there is nothing 30 
I would less willingly part with than my inheritance of 
mother wit. 

I have next to nothing to say about my childhood. In 
later years my mother, looking at me almost reproachfully, 

6 Selections from Huxley 

would sometimes say, " Ah ! you were such a pretty boy ! " 
whence I had no difficulty in concluding that I had not 
fulfilled my early promise in the matter of looks. In 
fact, I have a distinct recollection of certain curls of 
5 which I was vain, and of a conviction that I closely 
resembled that handsome, courtly gentleman, Sir Herbert 
Oakley, who was vicar of our parish, and who was as a 
god to us country folk, because he was occasionally visited 
by the then Prince George of Cambridge. I remember 

10 turning my pinafore wrong side forwards in order to 
represent a surplice, and preaching to my mother's maids 
in the kitchen as nearly as possible in Sir Herbert's manner 
one Sunday morning when the rest of the family were at 
church. That is the earliest indication I can call to mind 

15 of the strong clerical affinities which my friend Mr. Her- 
bert Spencer has always ascribed to me, though I fancy 
they have for the most part remained in a latent state. 

My regular school training was of the briefest, per- 
haps fortunately, for though my way of life has made me 

20 acquainted with all sorts and conditions of men, from the 
highest to the lowest, I deliberately affirm that the 
society I fell into at school was the worst I have ever 
known. We boys were average lads, with much the same 
inherent capacity for good and evil as any others; but the 

25 people who were set over us cared about as much for our 
intellectual and moral welfare as if they were baby- 
farmers. We were left to the operation of the struggle 
for existence among ourselves, and bullying was the least 
of the ill practices current among us. Almost the only 

30 cheerful reminiscence in connection with the place which 
arises in my mind is that of a battle I had with one of my 
classmates, who had bullied me until I could stand it 
no longer. I was a very slight lad, but there was a wild- 
cat element in me which, when roused, made up for lack of 

Autobiography 7 

weight, and I licked my adversary effectually. However, 
one of my first experiences of the extremely rough-and- 
ready nature of justice, as exhibited by the course of 
things in general, arose out of the fact that I the victor 
had a black eye, while he the vanquished had none, so 5 
that I got into disgrace and he did not. We made it up, 
and thereafter I was unmolested. One of the greatest 
shocks I ever received in my life was to be told a dozen 
years afterwards by the groom who brought me my horse 
in a stable-yard in Sydney that he was my quondam an- 10 
tagonist. He had a long story of family misfortune to 
account for his position, but at that time it was necessary 
to deal very cautiously with mysterious strangers in New 
South Wales, and on inquiry I found that the unfortunate 
young man had not only been " sent out," but had under- 15 
gone more than one colonial conviction. 

As I grew older, my great desire was to be a me- 
chanical engineer, but the fates were against this and, 
while very young, I commenced the study of medicine 
under a medical brother-in-law. But, though the In- 20 
stitute of Mechanical Engineers would certainly not own 
me, I am not sure that I have not all along been a sort 
of mechanical engineer in partibus inftdelium. I am now 
occasionally horrified to think how very little I ever knew 
or cared about medicine as the art of healing. The only 25 
part of my professional course which really and deeply in- 
terested me was physiology, which is the mechanical engi- 
neering of living machines; and, notwithstanding that 
natural science has been my proper business, I am afraid 
there is very little of the genuine naturalist in me. I 30 
never collected anything, and species work was always a 
burden to me; what I cared for was the architectural 
and engineering part of the business, the working out of 
the wonderful unity of plan in the thousands and thou- 

8 Selections from Huxley 

sands of diverse living constructions, and the modifications 
of similar apparatuses to serve diverse ends. The ex- 
traordinary attraction I felt towards the study of the in- 
tricacies of living structure nearly proved fatal to me at 
5 the outset. I was a mere boy I think between thirteen 
and fourteen years of age when I was taken by some 
older student friends of mine to the first post-mortem 
examination I ever attended. All my life I have been 
most unfortunately sensitive to the disagreeables which 

10 attend anatomical pursuits, but on this occasion my curi- 
osity overpowered all other feelings, and I spent two or 
three hours in gratifying it. I did not cut myself, and 
none of the ordinary symptoms of dissection-poison super- 
vened, but poisoned I was somehow, and I remember 

15 sinking into a strange state of apathy. By way of a last 
chance, I was sent to the care of some good, kind people, 
friends of my father's, who lived in a farmhouse in the 
heart of Warwickshire. I remember staggering from my 
bed to the window on the bright spring morning after my 

20 arrival, and throwing open the casement. Life seemed to 
come back on the wings of the breeze, and to this day the 
faint odor of wood-smoke, like that which floated across 
the farm-yard in the early morning, is as good to me 
as the "sweet south upon a bed of violets." I soon re- 

25 covered, but for years I suffered from occasional paroxysms 
of internal pain, and from that time my constant friend, 
hypochondriacal dyspepsia, commenced his half century of 
co-tenancy of my fleshly tabernacle. 

Looking back on my " Lehrjahre," I am sorry to 

30 say that I do not think that any account of my doings 
as a student would tend to edification. In fact, I should 
distinctly warn ingenuous youth to avoid imitating my 
example. I worked extremely hard when it pleased me, 
and when it did not which was a very frequent case 

Autobiography 9 

I was extremely idle (unless making caricatures of one's 
pastors and masters is to be called a branch of industry), 
or else wasted my energies in wrong directions. I read 
everything I could lay hands upon, including novels, and 
took up all sorts of pursuits to drop them again quite as 5 
speedily. No doubt it was very largely my own fault, but 
the only instruction from which I ever obtained the proper 
effect of education was that which I received from Mr. 
Wharton Jones, wfio was the lecturer on physiology at the 
Charing Cross School of Medicine. The extent and pre- 10 
cision of his knowledge impressed me greatly, and the 
severe exactness of his method of lecturing was quite to 
my taste. I do not know that I have ever felt so much 
respect for anybody as a teacher before or since. I worked 
hard to obtain his approbation, and he was extremely kind 15 
and helpful to the youngster who, I am afraid, took up 
more of his time than he had any right to do. It was 
he who suggested the publication of my first scientific 
paper a very little one in the Medical Gazette of 1845, 
and most kindly corrected the literary faults which 20 
abounded in it, short as it was ; for at that time, and for 
many years afterwards, I detested the trouble of writing, 
and would take no pains over it. 

It was in the early spring of 1846, that, having fin- 
ished my obligatory medical studies and passed the first 25 
M.D. examination at the London University, though 
I was still too young to qualify at the College of Sur- 
geons, I was talking to a fellow-student (the present 
eminent physician, Sir Joseph Fayrer), and wondering 
what I should do to meet the imperative necessity for 30 
earning my own bread, when my friend suggested that I 
should write to Sir William Burnett, at that time Director- 
General for the Medical Service of the Navy, for an 
appointment. I thought this rather a strong thing to do, 

io Selections from Huxley 

as Sir William was personally unknown to me, but my 
cheery friend would not listen to my scruples, so I went 
to my lodgings and wrote the best letter I could devise. 
A few days afterwards I received the usual official cir- 
5 cular acknowledgment, but at the bottom there was 
written an instruction to call at Somerset House on such 
a day. I thought that looked like business, so at the ap- 
pointed time I called and sent in my card, while I 
waited in Sir William's ante-room! 1 * He was a tall, 

io shrewd-looking old gentleman, with a broad Scotch ac- 
cent and I think I see him now as he entered with my 
card in his hand. The first thing he did was to return it, 
with the frugal reminder that I should probably find it 
useful on some other occasion. The second was to ask 

15 whether I was an Irishman. I suppose the air of modesty 
about my appeal must have struck him. I satisfied the 
Director-General that I was English to the backbone, 
and he made some inquiries as to my student career, finally 
desiring me to hold myself ready for examination. Having 

20 passed this, I was in her Majesty's service, and entered on 
the books of Nelson's old ship, the Victory, for duty at 
Haslar Hospital, about a couple of months after I made 
my application. 

My official chief at Haslar was a very remarkable per- 

25 son, the late Sir John Richardson, an excellent naturalist, 
and far-famed as an indomitable Arctic traveler. He was 
a silent, reserved man, outside the circle of his family and 
intimates; and, having a full share of youthful vanity, I 
was extremely disgusted to find that " Old John," as we 

30 irreverent youngsters called him, took not the slightest 
notice of my worshipful self either the first time I at- 
tended him, as it was my duty to do, or for some weeks 
afterwards. I am afraid to think of the lengths to which 
my tongue may have run on the subject of the churlish- 

Autobiography n 

ness of the chief, who was, in truth, one of the kindest- 
hearted and most considerate of men. But one day, as I 
was crossing the hospital square, Sir John stopped me, and 
heaped coals of fire on my head by telling me that he had 
tried to get me one of the resident appointments, much 5 
coveted by the assistant surgeons, but that the Admiralty 
had put in another man. " However," said he, " I mean 
to keep you here till I can get you something you will 
like," and turned upon his heel without waiting for the 
thanks I stammered out. That explained how it was I had 10 
not been packed off to the west coast of Africa like some 
of my juniors, and why, eventually, I remained alto- 
gether seven months at Haslar. 

After a long interval, during which " Old John " ig- 
nored my existence almost as completely as before, he 15 
stopped me again as we met in a casual way, and describ- 
ing the service on which the Rattlesnake was likely to be 
employed, said that Captain Owen Stanley, who Was to 
command the ship, had asked him to recommend an as- 
sistant surgeon who knew something of science; would I 20 
like that? Of course I jumped at the offer. " Very well, 
I give you leave ; go to London at once and see Captain 
Stanley." I went, saw my future commander, who was 
very civil to me, and promised to ask that I should be 
appointed to his ship, as in due time I was. It is a singu- 25 
lar thing that, during the few months of my stay at Has- 
lar, I had among my messmates two future Directors- 
General of the Medical Service of the Navy (Sir Alex- 
ander Armstrong and Sir John Watt-Reid), with the 
present President of the College of Physicians and my 30 
kindest of doctors, Sir Andrew Clark. 

Life on board her Majesty's ship in those days was 
a very different affair from what it is now, and ours 
was exceptionally rough, as we were often many months 

12 Selections from Huxley 

without receiving letters or seeing any civilized people 
but ourselves. In exchange, we had the interest of being 
about the last voyagers, I suppose, to whom it could be 
possible to meet with people who knew nothing of fire- 
5 arms as we did on the south coast of New Guinea and 
of making acquaintance with a variety of interesting savage 
and semi-civilized people. But, apart from experience of 
this kind and the opportunities offered for scientific work, 
to me, personally, the cruise was extremely valuable. It 

10 was good for me to live under sharp discipline; to be 
down on the realities of existence by living on bare neces- 
saries; to find out how extremely well worth living life 
seemed to be when one woke up from a night's rest on 
a soft plank, with the sky for canopy and cocoa and 

15 weevily biscuit the sole prospect for breakfast ; and, more 
especially, to learn to work for the sake of what I got for 
myself out of it, even if it all went to the bottom and I 
along with it. My brother officers were as good fellows 
as sailors ought to be and generally are, but, naturally, 

20 they neither knew nor cared anything about my pursuits, 
nor understood why I should be so zealous in pursuit of 
the objects which my friends, the middies, christened 
" Buffons," after the title conspicuous on a -volume of the 
Suites a Buffon, which stood on my shelf in the chart- 

25 room. 

During the four years of our absence, I sent home 
communication after communication to the " Linnean 
Society," with the same result as that obtained by Noah 
when he sent the raven out of his ark. Tired at last of 

30 hearing nothing about them, I determined to do or die, and 
in 1849 I drew up a more elaborate paper and forwarded 
it to the Royal Society. This was my dove, if I had only 
known it. But owing to the movements of the ship, I 
heard nothing of that either until my return to England 

Autobiography 13 

in the latter end of the year 1850, when I found that it 
was printed and published, and that a huge packet of 
separate copies awaited me. When I hear some of my 
young friends complain of want of sympathy and encour- 
agement, I am inclined to think that my naval life was 5 
not the least valuable part of my education. 

Three years after my return were occupied by a bat- 
tle between my scientific friends on the one hand and 
the Admiralty on the other, as to whether the latter ought, 
or ought not, to act up to the spirit of a pledge they had 10 
given to encourage officers who had done scientific work 
by contributing to the expense of publishing mine. At 
last the Admiralty, getting tired, I suppose, cut short the 
discussion by ordering me to join a ship, which thing I 
declined to do, and as Rastignac, in the Pere Goriot, says 15 
to Paris, I said to London, "a nous deux." I desired to 
obtain a professorship of either physiology or comparative 
anatomy, and as vacancies occurred I applied, but in vain. 
My friend, Professor Tyndall, and I were candidates at 
the same time, he for the chair of physics and I for that of 20 
natural history in the University of Toronto, which, fortu- 
nately, as it turned out, would not look at either of us. 
I say fortunately, not from any lack of respect for To- 
ronto, but because I soon made up my mind that London 
was the place for me, and hence I have steadily declined 25 
the inducements to leave it, which have at various times 
been offered. At last, in 1854, on the translation of my 
warm friend Edward Forbes, to Edinburgh, Sir Henry de 
la Beche, the Director-General of the Geological Survey, 
offered me the post Forbes had vacated of Paleontologist 30 
and Lecturer on Natural History. I refused the former 
point-blank, and accepted the latter only provisionally, tell- 
ing Sir Henry that I did not care for fossils, and that 
I should give up natural history as soon as I could get a 

14 Selections from Huxley 

physiological post. But I held the office for thirty-one 
years, and a large part of my work has been paleonto- 

At that time I disliked public speaking, and had a firm 
5 conviction that I should break down every time I opened 
my mouth. I believe I had every fault a speaker could 
have (except talking at random or indulging in rhetoric), 
when I spoke to the first important audience I ever ad- 
dressed, on a Friday evening at the Royal Institution, in 

10 1852. Yet, I must confess to having been guilty, malgre 
moij of as much public speaking as most of my contempo- 
raries, and for the last ten years it ceased to be so much 
of a bugbear to me. I used to pity myself for having to 
go through this training, but I am now more disposed to 

15 compassionate the unfortunate audiences, especially my 
ever friendly hearers at the Royal Institution, who were 
the subjects of my oratorical experiments. 

The last thing that it would be proper for me to do 
would be to speak of the work of my life, or to say at 

20 the end of the day whether I think I have earned my wages 
or not. Men are said to be partial judges of themselves. 
Young men may be, I doubt if old men are. Life seems 
terribly foreshortened as they look back and the mountain 
they set themselves to climb in youth turns out to be a 

25 mere spur of immeasurably higher ranges when, by failing 
breath, they reach the top. [But if_J may speak of__the_ 
objfcts.J[ have had_more__pr Tess definitely^m view since 
Ibegan__the ascent of_jnyJiilJock r -they_are__brjefly_ these ^ 
To promote the increase of natural knowledge and to for- 

30 ward the application of scientific methods of investigation 
to all the problems of life to the best of my ability, in 
the conviction which has grown with my growth and 
strengthened with my strength, that there is no alleviation 
for the sufferings of mankind except veracity of thought 

Autobiography 15 

and of action, and the resolute facing of the world as it is 
when the garment of make-believe by which pious hands 
have hidden its uglier features is stripped off. 

It is with this intent that I have subordinated any 
reasonable, or unreasonable, ambition for scientific fame 5 
which I may have permitted myself to entertain to other 
ends; to the popularization of science; to the development 
and organization of scientific education; to the endless 
series of battles and skirmishes over evolution; and to 
untiring opposition to that ecclesiastical spirit, that clerical- 10 
ism, which in England, as everywhere else, and to what- 
ever denomination it may belong, is the deadly enemy of 

In striving for the attainment of these objects, I have 
been but one among many, and I shall be well content to 15 
be remembered, or even not remembered, as such. Cir- 
cumstances, among which I am proud to reckon the 
devoted kindness of many friends, have led to my occupa- 
tion of various prominent positions, among which the presi- 
dency of the Royal Society is the highest. It would be 20 
mock modesty on my part, with these and other scientific 
honors which have been bestowed upon me, to pretend 
that I have not succeeded in the career which I have fol- 
lowed, rather because I was driven into it than of my 
own free will; but I am afraid I should not count even 25 
these things as marks of success if I could not hope that I 
had somewhat helped that movement of opinion which 
has been called the New Reformation. 


[To Miss Heathorn. London, November 13, 1852. On 
learning that the Royal Medal was to be conferred 
upon him for his paper on the Medusae.] 

Going last week to the Royal Society's library for a 

5 book, and like the boy in church " thinkin' o' naughten," 

when I went in, Weld, the Assistant Secretary, said, 

" Well, I congratulate you." I confess I did not see at 

that moment what any mortal man had to congratulate 

'me about. I had a deuced bad cold, with rheumatism 

10 in my head ; it was a beastly November day and I was very 
grumpy, so I inquired in a state of mild surprise what 
might be the matter. Whereupon I learnt that the Medal 
had been conferred at the meeting of the Council on the 
day before. I was very pleased and I thought you would 

15 be so too, and I thought moreover that it was a fine lever 
to help us on, and if I could have sent a letter to you 
immediately I should have sat down and have written one 
to you on the spot. As it is I have waited for official 
confirmation and a convenient season. 

20 And, now, shall I be very naughty and make a con- 
fession? The thing that a fortnight ago (before I got it) 
I thought so much of, I give you my word I do not care 

* These letters are republished here by permission of D.' Apple- 
ton and Company. 


Letters 1 7 

a pin for. I am sick of it and ashamed of having thought 
so much of it, and the congratulations I get give me a sort 
of internal sardonic grin. I think this has come about 
partly because I did not get the official confirmation of what 
I had heard for some days, and with my habit of facing 5 
the ill side of things I came to the conclusion that Weld 
had made a mistake, and I went in thought through the 
whole enormous mortification of having to explain to 
those to whom I had mentioned it that it was quite a 
mistake. I found that all this, when I came to look at it, 10 
was by no means so dreadful as it seemed quite bear- 
able in short and then I laughed at myself and have 
cared nothing about the whole concern ever since. In 
truth I do not think that I am in the proper sense of the 
word ambitious. I have an enormous longing after the 15 
highest and best in all shapes a longing which haunts 
me and is the demon which ever impels me to work, and 
will let me have no rest unless I am doing his behests. 
The honors of men I value so far as they are evidences 
of power, but with the cynical mistrust of their judg- 20 
ment and my own worthiness, which always haunts me, 
I put very little faith in them. Their praise makes me 
sneer inwardly. God forgive me if I do them any great 

I feel and know that all the rewards and honors in the 25 
world will ever be worthless for me as soon as they are 
obtained. I know that always, as now, they will make 
me more sad than joyful. I know that nothing that 
could be done would give me the pure and heartfelt 
joy and peace of mind that your love has given me, and, 30 
please God, shall give for many a long year to come, and 
yet my demon says work! work! you shall not even love 
unless you work. 

Not blinded by any vanity, then; I hope, but viewing 

1 8 Selections from Huxley 

this stroke of fortune as respects its public estimation only, 
I think I must look upon the award of this medal as the 
turning point of my life, as the finger-post teaching me 
as clearly as anything can what is the true career that 

5 lies open before me. For whatever may be my own 
private estimation of it, there can be no doubt as to the 
general feeling about this thing, and in case of my candi- 
dature for any office it would have the very greatest 
weight. As you will have seen by my last letter, it only 

10 strengthens and confirms the conclusion I had come to. 
Bid me God-speed then it is all I want to labor cheer- 

[To Miss Heathorn. London, November 28, 1852. On 
the funeral of the Duke of Wellington.] 

15 You will hear all the details of the Great Duke's state 
funeral from the papers much better than I can tell you 
them. I went to the Cathedral (St. Paul's) and had the 
good fortune to get a capital seat in front, close to 
the great door by which every one entered. It was bitter 

20 cold, a keen November wind blowing right in, and as I 
was there from eight till three, I expected nothing less 
than rheumatic fever the next day; however, I didn't 
get it. It was pitiful to see the poor old Marquis of 
Anglesey a year older than the Duke standing with 

25 bare head in the keen wind close to me for more than 
three quarters of an hour. It was impressive enough 
the great interior lighted up by a single line of light 
running along the whole circuit of the cornice, and an- 
other encircling the dome, and casting a curious illumina- 

30 tion over the masses of uniforms which filled the great 
space. The best of our people were there and passed close 
to me, but the only face that made any great impression 

Letters 19 

upon my memory was that of Sir Charles Napier, the 
conqueror of Scinde. Fancy a very large, broad-winged, 
and fierce-looking hawk in uniform. Such an eye ! 

When the coffin and the mourners had passed I closed 
up with the soldiers and went up under the dome, where 5 
I heard the magnificent service in full perfection. 

All of it, however, was but stage trickery compared 
with the noble simplicity of the old man's life. How the 
old stoic, used to his iron bed and hard hair pillow, would 
have smiled at all the pomp submitting to that, how- 10 
ever, and all other things necessary to the " carrying on 
of the Queen's<joi|ernment." 

I send Tennyson's ode by way of packing it is not 
worth much more, the only decent passages to my mind 
being those I have marked. 15 

The day after to-morrow I go to have my medal 
presented and to dine and make a speech. 

[To Miss Heathorn. London, July 6, 1853. On his 
new aims and purposes.] 

I know that these three years have inconceivably altered 20 
me that from being an idle man, only too happy to flow 
into the humors of the moment, I have become almost 
unable to exist without active intellectual excitement. I 
know that in this I find peace and rest such as I can 
attain in no other way. From being a mere untried 25 
fledgling, doubtful whether the wish to fly proceeded 
from mere presumption or from budding wings, I have 
now some confidence in well-tried pinions, which have 
given me rank among the strongest and foremost. I have 
always felt how difficult it was for you to realize all 30 
this how strange it must be to you that though your 
image remained as bright as ever, new interests and pur- 

2O Selections from Huxley 

poses had ranged themselves around it, and though they 
could claim no preeminence, yet demanded their share of 
my thoughts. I make no apology for this it is man's 
nature and the necessary influence of circumstances which 
5 will so have it ; and depend, however painful our pres- 
ent separation may be, the spectacle of a man who had 
given up the cherished purpose of his life, the Esau who 
had sold his birthright for a mess of pottage and with it 
his self-respect, would, before- long years were over our 

10 heads, be infinitely more painful. Depend upon it, the 
trust which you placed in my hands when I left you to 
choose for both of us has not been abused. Hemmed in 
by all sorts of difficulties, my choice was a narrow one, and 
I was guided more by circumstances than my own free 

15 will. Nevertheless the path has shown itself to be a fair 
one, neither more difficult nor less so than most paths in 
life in which a man of energy may hope to do much if 
he believes in himself, and is at peace within. 

My course in life is taken. I will not leave London 

20 I will make myself a name and position as well as an 
income by some kind of pursuit connected with science, 
which is the thing for which nature has fitted me if she 
has ever fitted any one for anything. Bethink yourself 
whether you can cast aside all repining and doubt, and 

25 devote yourself in patience and trust to helping me along 
my path as no one else could. I know what I ask, and 
the sacrifice I demand, and if this were the time to use 
false modesty, I should say how little I have to offer in 

30 I am full of faults, but I am real and true, and the 

whole devotion of an earnest soul cannot be overprized. 

It is as if all that old life at Holmwood had merely 

been a preparation for the real life of our love as if we 

were then children ignorant of life's real purpose as if 

Letters 2 1 

these last months had merely been my old doubts over 
again, whether I had rightly or wrongly interpreted 
the manner and the words that had given me hope. 

We will begin the new love of woman and man, no 
longer that of boy and girl, conscious that we have aims 5 
and purposes as well as affections, and that, if love is 
sweet, life is dreadfully stern and earnest. 

[To Charles Darwin. London, November 23, 1859. O 
The Origin of Species.] 

My dear Darwin I finished your book yesterday, 10 
a lucky examination having furnished me with a few hours 
of continuous leisure. 

Since I read Von Bar's essays, nine years ago, no work 
on Natural History Science I have met with has made so 
great an impression upon me, and I do most heartily thank 15 
you for the great store of new views you have given me. 
Nothing, I think, can be better than the tone of the book; 
it impresses those who know about the subject. As for 
your doctrine, I am prepared to go to the stake, if re- 
quisite, in support of Chapter IX and most parts of 20 
Chapters X, XI, XII; and Chapter XIII contains much 
that is most admirable, but on one or two points I enter a 
caveat until I can see further into all sides of the question. 

As to the first four chapters, I agree thoroughly and 
fully with all the principles laid down in them. I think 25 
you have demonstrated a true cause for the production of 
species, and have thrown the onus probandi, that species 
did not arise in the way you suppose, on your adversaries. 

But I feel that I have not yet by any means fully 
realized the bearings of those most remarkable and original 30 
Chapters III, IV, and V; and I will write no more 
about them just now. 

22 Selections from Huxley 

The only objections that have occurred to me are ist, 
That you have loaded yourself with an unnecessary diffi- 
culty in adopting Natura non facit saltum so unreservedly ; 
and 2d, It is not clear to me why, if continual physical 
5 conditions are of so little moment as you suppose, varia- 
tion should occur at all. 

However, I must read the book two or three times 
more before I presume to begin picking holes. 

I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way 
10 disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse and mis- 
representation which, unless I greatly mistake, is in store 
for you. Depend upon it, you have earned the lasting 
gratitude of all thoughtful men. And as to the curs 
which will bark and yelp, you must recollect that some of 
15 your friends, at any rate, are endowed with an amount 
of combativeness which (though you have often and justly 
rebuked it) may stand you in good stead. 

I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness. 
Looking back over my letter, it really expresses so 
20 feebly all I think about you and your noble book, that I 
am half-ashamed of it; but you will understand that, like 
the parrot in the story, " I think the more." Ever yours 
faithfully, T. H. HUXLEY. 

[To John Tyndall. Naples, March 31, 1872. On 

25 Mount Vesuvius.] 

From Messina I came on here, and had the great good 
fortune to find Vesuvius in eruption. Before this fact 
the vision of good Bence Jones forbidding much exertion 
vanished into thin air, and on Thursday up I went in 
30 company with Ray Lankester and my friend Dohrn's 
father, Dohrn himself being unluckily away. We had a 
glorious day, and did not descend till late at night. The 

Letters 23 

great crater was not very active, and contented itself 
with throwing out great clouds of steam and volleys of 
red-hot stones now and then. These were thrown to- 
wards the south-west side of the cone, so that it was 
practicable to walk all round the northern and eastern 5 
lip, and look down into the Hell Gate. I wished you 
were there to enjoy the sight as much as I did. No lava 
was issuing from the great crater, but on the north side of 
this, a little way below the top, an independent cone had 
established itself as the most charming little pocket- 10 
volcano imaginable. It could not have been more than 
loo feet high, and at the top was a crater not more than 
six or seven feet across. Out of this, with a noise exactly 
resembling a blast furnace and a slowly-working high 
pressure steam engine combined, issued a violent torrent 15 
of steam and fragments of semi-fluid lava as big as one's 
fist, and sometimes bigger. These shot up sometimes as 
much as 100 feet, and then fell down on the sides of the 
little crater, which could be approached within fifty feet 
without any danger. As darkness set in, the spectacle was 20 
most strange. The fiery stream found a lurid reflection 
in the slowly drifting steam cloud, which overhung it, 
while the red-hot stones which shot through the cloud 
shone strangely beside the quiet stars in a moonless sky. 

Not from the top of this cinder cone, but from its 25 
side, a couple of hundred feet down, a stream of lava 
issued. At first it was not more than a couple of feet 
wide, but whether from receiving accessions or merely 
from the different form of slope, it got wider on its jour- 
ney down to the Atrio del Cavallo, a thousand feet below. 30 
The slope immediately below the exit must have been 
near fifty, but the lava did not flow quicker than very 
thick treacle would do under like circumstances. And 
there were plenty of freshly cooled lava streams about, in- 

24 Selections from Huxley 

clined at angles far greater than those which that learned 
Academician, Elie de Beaumont, declared to be possible. 
Naturally I was ashamed of these impertinent lava cur- 
rents, and felt inclined to call them " Laves mous- 
5 seuses." 

Courage, my friend, behold land ! I know you love my 
handwriting. I am off to Rome to-day, and this day- 
week, if all goes well, I shall be under my own roof-tree 
again. In fact I hope to reach London on Saturday even- 
10 ing. It will be jolly to see your face again. Ever yours 
faithfully, T. H. HUXLEY. 

[To the Lord Mayor of London. Monte Generoso, 
Switzerland, June 25, 1889. On Louis Pasteur.] 

My Lord Mayor I greatly regret my inability to be 

15 present at the meeting which is to be held, under your 
Lordship's auspices, in reference to M. Pasteur and his 
Institute. The unremitting labors of that eminent French- 
man during the last half-century have yielded rich har- 
vests of new truths, and are models of exact and refined 

20 research. As such they deserve, and have received, all the 
honors which those who are the best judges of their 
purely scientific merits are able to bestow. But it so 
happens that these subtle and patient searchings out of 
the ways of the infinitely little of the swarming life 

25 where the creature that measures one-thousandth part 
of an inch is a giant have also yielded results of su- 
preme practical importance. The path of M. Pasteur's 
investigations is strewed with gifts of vast monetary 
value to the silk trades, the brewer, and the wine mer- 

30 chant. And this being so, it might well be a proper and 
graceful act on the part of the representatives of trade 
and commerce in its greatest center to make some public 

Letters 25 

recognition of M. Pasteur's services, even if there were 
nothing further to be said about them. 

But there is much more to be said. M. Pasteur's direct 
and indirect contributions to our knowledge of the causes 
of diseased states, and of the means of preventing theirs 
recurrence, are not measurable by money values, but by 
those of healthy life and diminished suffering to men. 
Medicine, surgery, and hygiene have all been powerfully 
affected by M. Pasteur's work, which has culminated 
in his method of treating hydrophobia. I cannot con- 10 
ceive that any competently instructed person can consider 
M. Pasteur's labors in this direction without arriving 
at the conclusion that, if any man has earned the praise 
and honor of his fellows, he has. I find it no less difficult 
to imagine that our wealthy country should be other 15 
than ashamed to continue to allow its citizens to profit by 
the treatment freely given at the Institute without con- 
tributing to its support. Opposition to the proposals 
which your Lordship sanctions would be equally incon- 
ceivable if it arose out of nothing but the facts of the 20 
case thus presented. But the opposition which, as I see 
from the English papers, is threatened has really for the 
most part nothing to do either with M. Pasteur's merits 
or with the efficacy of his method of treating hydrophobia. 
It proceeds partly from the fanatics of laissez faire, who 25 
think it better to rot and die than to be kept whole and 
lively by State interference, partly 'from the blind oppo- 
nents of properly conducted physiological experimentation, 
who prefer that men should suffer than rabbits or dogs, 
and partly from those who for other but not less power- 30 
ful motives hate everything which contributes to prove 
the value of strictly scientific methods of inquiry in all 
those questions which affect the welfare of society. 

I sincerely trust that the good sense of the meeting over 

.26 Selections from Huxley 

which your Lordship will preside will preserve it from 
being influenced by those unworthy antagonisms, and that 
the just and benevolent enterprise you have undertaken 
may have a happy issue. I am, my Lord Mayor, your 
5 obedient servant, THOMAS H. HUXLEY. 

[To John Tyndall. Hodeslea, Eastbourne, October 15, 
1892. On the funeral of Alfred Tennyson.] 

My dear Tyndall I think you will like to hear that 
the funeral yesterday lacked nothing to make it worthy 
10 of the dead or the living. 

Bright sunshine streamed through the windows of the 
nave, while the choir was in half gloom, and as each shaft 
of light illuminated the flower-covered bier as it slowly 
traveled on, one thought of the bright succession of his 
15 works between the darkness before and the darkness 
after. I am glad to say that the Royal Society was repre- 
sented by four of its chief officers, and nine of the com- 
monalty, including myself. Tennyson has a right to that, 
as the first poet since Lucretius who has understood the 
20 drift of science. 

We have heard nothing of you and your wife for 
ages. Ask her to give us news, good news, I hope, of 

My wife is better than she was, and joins with me in 
25 love. Ever yours affectionately, T. H. HUXLEY. 

[To a young man. Hodeslea, Eastbourne, November 5, 
1892. On choosing a profession.] 

Dear Sir I am very sorry that the pressure of other 
occupations has prevented me from sending an earlier 
30 reply to your letter. 

Letters 27 

In my opinion a man's first duty is to find a way of 
supporting himself, thereby relieving other people of the 
necessity of supporting him. Moreover, the learning to 
do work of practical value in the world, in an exact and 
careful manner, is of itself a very important education, the 5 
effects of which make themselves felt in all other pur- 
suits. The habit of doing that which you do not care 
about when you would much rather be doing something 
else, is invaluable. It would have saved me a frightful 
waste of time if I had ever had it drilled into me in youth. 10 

Success in any scientific career requires an unusual 
equipment of capacity, industry, and energy. If you pos- 
sess that equipment you will find leisure enough after 
your daily commercial work is over, to make an opening 
in the scientific ranks for yourself. If you do not, you 15 
had better stick to commerce. Nothing is less to be de- 
sired than the fate of a young man, who, as the Scotch 
proverb says, in " trying to make a spoon spoils a horn," 
and becomes a mere hanger-on in literature or in science, 
when he might have been a useful and a valuable member 20 
of Society in other occupations. 

I think that your father ought to see this letter. 
Yours faithfully, T. H. HUXLEY. 



THIS time two hundred years ago in the beginning of 

January, 1666 those of our forefathers who inhabited 

this great and ancient city, took breath between the shocks 

of two fearful calamities: one not quite past, although its 

5 fury had abated ; the other to come. 

Within a few yards of the very spot on which we are 
assembled, so the tradition runs, that painful and deadly 
malady, the plague, appeared in the latter months of 
1664; and, though no new visitor, smote the people of 
10 England, and especially of her capital, with a violence 
unknown before, in the course of the following year. 
The hand of a master has pictured what happened in 
those dismal months; and in that truest of fictions, The 
History of the Plague Year, Defoe shows death, with 
15 every accompaniment of pain and terror, stalking through 
the narrow streets of old London, and changing their 
busy hum into a silence broken only by the wailing of the 
mourners of fifty thousand dead; by the woful denuncia- 
tions and mad prayers of fanatics; and by the madder 
20 yells of despairing profligates. 

But, about this time in 1666, the death-rate had sunk 

to nearly its ordinary amount; a case of plague occurred 

only here and there, and the richer citizens who had flown 

from the pest had returned to their dwellings. The 

25 remnant of the people began to toil at the accustomed round 


Improving Natural Knowledge 29 

of duty, or of pleasure; and the stream of city life bid 
fair to flow back along its old bed, with renewed and 
uninterrupted vigor. 

The newly kindled hope was deceitful. The great 
plague, indeed, returned no more; but what it had done 5 
for the Londoners, the great fire, which broke out in 
the autumn of 1666, did for London; and, in September 
of that year, a heap of ashes and the indestructible energy 
of the people were all that remained of the glory of five- 
sixths of the city within the walls. 10 

Our forefathers had their own ways of accounting for 
each of these calamities. They submitted to the plague 
in humility and in penitence, for they believed it to be 
the judgment of God. But, towards the fire they were 
furiously indignant, interpreting it as the effect of the 15 
malice of man, as the work of the Republicans, or of 
the Papists, according as their prepossessions ran in favor 
of loyalty or of Puritanism. 

It would, I fancy, have fared but ill with one who, 
standing where I now stand, in what was then a thickly 20 
peopled and fashionable part of London, should have 
broached to our ancestors the doctrine which I now pro- 
pound to you that all their hypotheses were alike wrong; 
that the plague was no more, in their sense, Divine judg- 
ment, than the fire was the work of any political, or of 25 
any religious, sect; but that they were themselves the 
authors of both plague and fire, and that they must 
look to themselves to prevent the recurrence of calamities, 
to all appearance so peculiarly beyond the reach of human 
control so evidently the result of the wrath of God, or of 30 
the craft and subtlety of an enemy. 

And one may picture to oneself how harmoniously the 
holy cursing of the Puritan of that day would have chimed 

30 Selections from Huxley 

in with the unholy cursing and the crackling wit of 
the Rochesters and Sedleys, and with the revilings of the 
political fanatics, if my imaginary plain dealer had gone 
on to say that, if the return of such misfortunes were ever 

5 rendered impossible, it would not be in virtue of the vic- 
tory of the faith of Laud, or of that of Milton; and, as 
little, by the triumph of republicanism, as by that of 
monarchy. But that the one thing needful for com- 
passing this end was, that the people of England should 

10 second the efforts of an insignificant corporation, the es- 
tablishment of which, a few years before the epoch of the 
great plague and the great fire, had been as little noticed, 
as they were conspicuous. 

Some twenty years before the outbreak of the plague 

15 a few calm and thoughtful students banded themselves to- 
gether for the purpose, as they phrased it, of " improving 
natural knowledge." The ends they proposed to attain 
cannot be stated more clearly than in the words of one 
of the founders of the organization: 

20 " Our business was (precluding matters of theology and 
state affairs) to discourse and consider of philosophical 
inquiries, and such as related thereunto: as Physick, 
Anatomy, Geometry, Astronomy, Navigation, Staticks, 
Magneticks, Chymicks, Mechanicks, and Natural Ex- 

25 periments ; with the state of these studies and their cultiva- 
tion at home and abroad. We then discoursed of the 
circulation of the blood, the valves in the veins, the vense 
lacteae, the lymphatic vessels, the Copernican hypothesis, 
the nature of comets and new stars, the satellites of Jupi- 

30 ter, the oval shape (as it then appeared) of Saturn, the 
spots on the sun and its turning on its own axis, the in- 
equalities and selenography of the moon, the several phases 
of Venus and Mercury, the improvement of telescopes 

Improving Natural Knowledge 31 

and grinding of glasses for that purpose, the weight of 
air, the possibility or impossibility of vacuities and nature's 
abhorrence thereof, the Torricellian experiment 'in quick- 
silver, the descent of heavy bodies and the degree of 
acceleration therein, with divers other things of like na- 5 
ture, some of which were then but new discoveries, and 
others not so generally known and embraced as now they 
are; with other things appertaining to what hath been 
called the ' New Philosophy,' which, from the times of 
Galileo at Florence, and Sir Francis Bacon (Lord 10 
Verulam) in England, hath been much cultivated in Italy, 
France, Germany, and other parts abroad, as well as with 
us in England." 

The learned Dr. Wallis, writing in 1696, narrates, in 
these words, what happened half a century before, or 15 
about 1645. The associates met at Oxford, in the rooms 
of Dr. Wilkins, who was destined to become a bishop; 
and subsequently coming together in London, they at- 
tracted the notice of the king. And it is a strange evidence 
of the taste for knowledge which the most obviously worth- 20 
less of the Stuarts shared with his father and grandfather, 
that Charles the Second was not content with saying 
witty things about his philosophers, but did wise things 
with regard to them. For he not only bestowed upon 
them such attention as he could spare from his poodles 25 
and his mistresses, but, being in his usual state of im- 
pecuniosity, begged for them of the Duke of Ormond; 
and, that step being without effect, gave them Chelsea 
College, a charter, and a mace: crowning his favors 
in the best way they could be crowned, by burdening 30 
them no further with royal patronage or state interference. 

Thus it was that the half-dozen young men, studious 
of the " New Philosophy," who met in one another's lodg- 
ings in Oxford or in London, in the middle of the seven- 

32 Selections from Huxley 

teenth century, grew in numerical and in real strength, 
until, in its latter part, the " Royal Society for the Im- 
provement of Natural Knowledge " had already become 
famous, and had acquired a claim upon the veneration of 

5 Englishmen, which it has ever since retained, as the 
principal focus of scientific activity in our islands, and the 
chief champion of the cause it was formed to support. 

It was by the aid of the Royal Society that Newton 
published his Prindpia. If all the books in the world, 

10 except the Philosophical Transactions, were destroyed, it 
is safe to say that the foundations of physical science 
would remain unshaken, and that the vast intellectual 
progress of the last two centuries would be largely, though 
incompletely, recorded. Nor have any signs of halting 

15 or of decrepitude manifested themselves in our own times. 
As in Dr. Wallis' days, so in these, " our business is, pre- 
cluding theology and state affairs, to discourse and con- 
sider of philosophical inquiries." But our " Mathematick " 
is one which Newton would have to go to school to 

20 learn ; our " Staticks, Mechanicks, Magneticks, Chymicks, 
and Natural Experiments" constitute a mass of physical 
and chemical knowledge, a glimpse at which would com- 
pensate Galileo for the doings of a score of inquisitorial 
cardinals; our " Physick " and " Anatomy " have embraced 

25 such infinite varieties of being, have laid open such new 
worlds in time and space, have grappled, not unsuc- 
cessfully, with such complex problems, that the eyes of 
Vesalius and of Harvey might be dazzled by the sight of 
the tree that has grown out of their grain of mustard seed. 

30 The fact is perhaps rather too much, than too little, 
forced upon one's notice, nowadays, that all this mar- 
velous intellectual growth has a no less wonderful ex- 
pression in practical life; and that, in this respect, if 
in no other, the movement symbolized by the progress 

Improving Natural Knowledge 33 

of the Royal Society stands without a parallel in the 
history of mankind. 

A series of volumes as bulky as the Transactions of 
the Royal Society might possibly be filled with the subtle 
speculations of the Schoolmen ; not improbably, the ob- 5 
taining a mastery over the products of medieval thought 
might necessitate an even greater expenditure of time and 
of energy than the acquirement of the " New Philosophy ; " 
but though such work engrossed the best intellects of Eu- 
rope for a longer time than has elapsed since the great 10 
fire, its effects were " writ in water," so far as our social 
state is concerned. 

On the other hand, if the noble first President of the 
Royal Society could revisit the upper air and once more 
gladden his eyes with a sight of the familiar mace, he 15 
would find himself in the midst of a material civilization 
more different from that of his day, than that of the 
seventeenth, was from that of the first, century. And if 
Lord Brouncker's native sagacity had not deserted his 
ghost, he would need no long reflection to discover that 20 
all these great ships, these railways, these telegraphs, 
these factories, these printing-presses, without which the 
whole fabric of modern English society would collapse 
into a mass of stagnant and starving pauperism, that all 
these pillars of our State are but the ripples and the bub- 25 
bles upon the surface of that great spiritual stream, the 
springs of which, only he and his fellows were privileged 
to see; and seeing, to recognize as that which it behooved 
them above all things to keep pure and undefiled. 

It may not be too great a flight of imagination to 30 
conceive our noble revenant not forgetful of the great 
troubles of his own day, and anxious to know how often 
London had been burned down since his time, and how 
often the plague had carried off its thousands. He would 

34 Selections from Huxley 

have to learn that, although London contains tenfold the 
inflammable matter that it did in 1666; though, not con- 
tent with filling our rooms with woodwork and light 
draperies, we must needs lead inflammable and explosive 
5 gases into every corner of our streets and houses, we never 
allow even a street to burn down. And if he asked how 
this had come about, we should have to explain that the 
improvement of natural knowledge has furnished us with 
dozens of machines for throwing water upon fires, any 

10 one of which would have furnished the ingenious Mr. 
Hooke, the first " curator and experimenter " of the Royal 
Society, with ample materials for discourse before half 
a dozen meetings of that body; and that, to say truth, 
except for the progress of natural knowledge, we should 

15 not have been able to make even the tools by which these 
machines are constructed. And, further, it would be 
necessary to add, that although severe fires sometimes 
occur and inflict great damage, the loss is very generally 
compensated by societies, the operations of which have 

20 been rendered possible only by the progress of natural 
knowledge in the direction of mathematics, and the accu- 
mulation of wealth in virtue of other natural knowl- 

But the plague? My Lord Brouncker's observation 

25 would not, I fear, lead him to think that Englishmen of 
the nineteenth century are purer in life, or more fervent 
in religious faith, than the generation which could pro- 
duce a Boyle, an Evelyn, and a Milton. He might find 
the mud of society at the bottom, instead of at the top, 

30 but I fear that the sum total would be as deserving of 
swift judgment as at the time of the Restoration. And 
it would be our duty to explain once more, and this time 
not without shame, that we have no reason to believe 
that it is the improvement of our faith, nor that of our 

Improving Natural Knowledge 35 

morals, which keeps the plague from our city; but, again, 
that it is the improvement of our natural knowledge. 

We have learned that pestilences will only take up their 
abode among those who have prepared unswept and un- 
garnished residences for them. Their cities must have 5 
narrow, unwatered streets, foul with accumulated garbage. 
Their houses must be ill-drained, ill-lighted, ill-ventilated. 
Their subjects must be ill-washed, ill-fed, ill-clothed. The, 
London of 1665 was such a city. The cities of the East, 
where plague has an enduring dwelling, are such cities. 10 
We, in later times, have learned somewhat of Nature, 
and partly obey her. Because of this partial improve- 
ment of our natural knowledge and of that fractional 
obedience, we have no plague; because that knowledge is 
still very imperfect and that obedience yet incomplete, 15 
typhus is our companion and cholera our visitor. But it is 
not presumptuous to express the belief that, when our 
knowledge is more complete and our obedience the ex- 
pression of our knowledge, London will count her centuries 
of freedom from typhus and cholera, as she now gratefully 20 
reckons her two hundred years of ignorance of that plague 
which swooped upon her thrice in the first half of the 
seventeenth century. 

Surely, there is nothing in these explanations which is 
not fully borne out by the facts? Surely, the principles 25 
involved in them are now admitted among the fixed be- 
liefs of all thinking men? Surely, it is true that our 
countrymen are less subject to fire, famine, pestilence, and 
all the evils which result from a want of command over 
and due anticipation of the course of Nature, than were 30 
the countrymen of Milton; and health, wealth, and well- 
being are more abundant with us than with them? But 
no less certainly is the difference due to the improve- 
ment of our knowledge of Nature, and the extent to which 

36 Selections from Huxley 

that improved knowledge has been incorporated with the 
household words of men, and has supplied the springs of 
their daily actions. 

Granting for a moment, then, the truth of that which 
5 the depredators of natural knowledge are so fond of 
urging, that its improvement can only add to the resources 
of our material civilization ; admitting it to be possible that 
the founders of the Royal Society themselves looked for 
no other reward than this, I cannot confess that I was 

10 guilty of exaggeration when I hinted, that to him who 
had the gift of distinguishing between prominent events 
and important events, the origin of a combined effort 
on the part of mankind to improve natural knowledge 
might have loomed larger than the Plague and have out- 

15 shone the glare of the Fire; as a something fraught with 
a wealth of beneficence to mankind, in comparison with 
which the damage done by those ghastly evils would 
shrink into insignificance. 

It is very certain that for every victim slain by the 

20 plague, hundreds of mankind exist and find a fair share 
of happiness in the world, by the aid of the spinning 
jenny. And the great fire, at its worst, could not have 
burned the supply of coal, the daily working of which, in 
the bowels of the earth, made possible by the steam pump, 

25 gives rise to an amount of wealth to which the millions 
lost in old London are but as an old song. 

But spinning jenny and steam pump are, after all, but 
toys, possessing an accidental value; and natural knowl- 
edge creates multitudes of more subtle contrivances, the 
30 praises of which do not happen to be sung because they 
are not directly convertible into instruments for creating 
wealth. When I contemplate natural knowledge squan- 
dering such gifts among men, the only appropriate com- 

Improving Natural Knowledge 37 

parison I can find for her is, to liken her to such a peasant 
woman as one sees in the Alps, striding ever upward, 
heavily burdened, and with mind bent only on her home; 
but yet, without effort and without thought, knitting for 
her children. Now stockings are good and comfortable 5 
things, and the children will undoubtedly be much the 
better for them; but surely it would be short-sighted, to 
say the least of it, to depreciate this toiling mother as a 
mere stocking-machine a mere provider of physical com- 
forts ? 10 

However, there are blind leaders of the blind, and not 
a few of them, who take this view of natural knowledge, 
and can see nothing in the bountiful mother of humanity 
but a sort of comfort-grinding machine. According to 
them, the improvement of natural knowledge always has 15 
been, and always must be, synonymous with no more 
than the improvement of the material resources and the 
increase of the gratifications of men. 

Natural knowledge is, in their eyes, no real mother of 
mankind, bringing them up with kindness, and, if need 20 
be, with sternness, in the way they should go, and instruct- 
ing them in all things needful for their welfare; but a 
sort of fairy godmother, ready to furnish her pets with 
shoes of swiftness, swords of sharpness, and omnipotent 
Aladdin's lamps, so that they may have telegraphs to 25 
Saturn, and see the other side of the moon, and thank 
God they are better than their benighted ancestors. 

If this talk were true, I, for one, should not greatly 
care to toil in the service of natural knowledge. I think 
I would just as soon be quietly chipping my own flint 30 
ax, after the manner of my forefathers a few thousand 
years back, as be troubled with the endless malady of 
thought which now infests us all, for such reward. But 
I venture to say that such views are contrary alike to 

38 Selections from Huxley 

reason and to fact. Those who discourse in such fashion 
seem to me to be so intent upon trying to see what is 
above Nature, or what is behind her, that they are blind 
to what stares them in the face, in her. 
5 I should not venture to speak thus strongly if my 
justification were not to be found in the simplest and 
most obvious facts, if it needed more than an appeal 
to the most notorious truths to justify my assertion, that 
the improvement of natural knowledge, whatever direc- 

10 tion it has taken, and however low the aims of those 
who may have commenced it has not only conferred 
practical benefits on men, but, in so doing, has effected 
a revolution in their conceptions of the universe and of 
themselves, and has profoundly altered their modes of 

15 thinking and their views of right and wrong. I say 
that natural knowledge, seeking to satisfy natural wants, 
has found the ideas which can alone still spiritual crav- 
ings. I say that natural knowledge, in desiring to ascer- 
tain the laws of comfort, has been driven to discover those 

20 of conduct, and to lay the foundations of a new morality. 

Let us take these points separately; and, first, what 
great ideas has natural knowledge introduced into men's 

I cannot but think that the foundations of all natural 

25 knowledge were laid when the reason of man first came 
face to face with the facts of Nature: when the savage 
first learned that the fingers of one hand are fewer than 
those of both; that it is shorter to cross a stream than 
to head it; that a stone stops where it is unless it be 

30 moved, and that it drops from the hand which lets it go ; 
that light and heat come and go with the sun; that sticks 
burn away in fire; that plants and animals grow and die; 
that if he struck his fellow-savage a blow he would 

Improving Natural Knowledge 39 

make him angry, and perhaps get a blow in return, while 
if he offered him a fruit he would please him, and per- 
haps receive a fish in exchange. When men had acquired 
this much knowledge, the outlines, rude though they 
were, of mathematics, of physics, of chemistry, of biology, 5 
of moral, economical, and political science, were sketched. 
Nor did the germ of religion fail when science began to 
bud. Listen to words which, though new, are yet three 
thousand years old: 

"... When in heaven the stars about the moon 10 

Look beautiful, when all the winds are laid, 
And every height comes out, and jutting peak 
And valley, and the immeasurable heavens 
Break open to their highest, and all the stars 
Shine, and the shepherd gladdens in his heart." * 15 

If the half-savage Greek could share our feelings thus 
far, it is irrational to doubt that he went further, to find, 
as we do, that upon that brief gladness there follows a 
certain sorrow, the little light of awakened human in- 
telligence shines so mere a spark amidst the abyss of the 20 
unknown and unknowable; seems so insufficient to do 
more than illuminate the imperfections that cannot be 
remedied, the aspirations that cannot be realized, of 
man's own nature. But in this sadness, this conscious- 
ness of the limitation of man, this sense of an open secret 25 
which he cannot penetrate, lies the essence of all religion ; 
and the attempt to embody it in the forms furnished by 
the intellect is the origin of the higher theologies. 

Thus it seems impossible to imagine but that the founda- 
tions of all knowledge secular or sacred were laid when 30 
intelligence dawned, though the superstructure remained 

* Need it be said that this is Tennyson's English for Homer's 

4O Selections from Huxley 

for long ages so slight and feeble as to be compatible 
with the existence of almost any general view respect- 
ing the mode of governance of the universe. No doubt, 
from the first, there were certain phenomena which, to 
5 the rudest mind, presented a constancy of occurrence, and 
suggested that a fixed order ruled, at any rate, among 
them. I doubt if the grossest of Fetish worshipers ever 
imagined that a stone must have a god within it to make 
it fall, or that a fruit had a god within it to make it 

10 taste sweet. With regard to such matters as these, it 
is hardly questionable that mankind from the first took 
strictly positive and scientific views. 

But, with respect to all the less familiar occurrences 
which present themselves, uncultured man, no doubt, has 

15 always taken himself as the standard of comparison, as 
the center and measure of the world; nor could he well 
avoid doing so. And finding that his apparently un- 
caused will has a powerful effect in giving rise to many 
occurrences, he naturally enough ascribed other and greater 

20 events to other and greater volitions, and came to look 
upon the world and all that therein is, as the product of the 
volitions of persons like himself, but stronger, and capable 
of being appeased or angered, as he himself might be 
soothed or irritated. Through such conceptions of the 

25 plan and working of the universe all mankind have passed, 
or are passing. And we may now consider, what has been 
the effect of the improvement of natural knowledge on 
the views of men who have reached this stage, and who 
have begun to cultivate -atural knowledge with no desire 

30 but that of " increasing God's honor and bettering man's 

For example: what could seem wiser, from a mere ma- 
terial point of view, more innocent, from a theological 
one, to an ancient people, than that they should learn 

Improving Natural Knowledge 41 

the exact succession of the seasons, as warnings for their 
husbandmen; or the position of the stars, as guides to 
their rude navigators? But what has grown out of this 
search for natural knowledge of so merely useful a char- 
acter? You all know the reply. Astronomy, which 5 
of all sciences has filled men's minds with general ideas 
of a character most foreign to their daily experience, 
and has, more than any other, rendered it impossible for 
them to accept the beliefs of their fathers. Astronomy, 
which tells them that this so vast and seemingly solid earth 10 
is but an atom among atoms, whirling, no man knows 
whither, through illimitable space ; which demonstrates 
that what we call the peaceful heaven above us, is but that 
space, filled by an infinitely subtle matter whose particles 
are seething and surging, like the waves of an angry sea; 15 
which opens up to us infinite regions where nothing is 
known, or ever seems to have been known, but matter and 
force, operating according to rigid rules ; which leads us to 
contemplate phenomena the very nature of which demon- 
strates that they must have had a beginning, and that they 20 
must have an end, but the very nature of which also proves 
that the beginning was, to our conceptions of time, in- 
finitely remote, and that the end is as immeasurably 

But it is not alone those who pursue astronomy who 25 
ask for bread and receive ideas. What more harmless 
than the attempt to lift and distribute water by pumping 
it; what more absolutely and grossly utilitarian? But 
out of pumps grew the discussions about Nature's ab- 
horrence of a vacuum ; and then it was discovered that 30 
Nature does not abhor a vacuum, but that air has weight ; 
and that notion paved the way for the doctrine that all 
matter has weight, and that the force which produces 
weight is co-extensive with the universe, in short, to 

42 Selections from Huxley 

the theory of universal gravitation and endless force. 
While learning how to handle gases led to the discovery 
of oxygen, and to modern chemistry, and to the notion 
of the indestructibility of matter. 

5 Again, what simpler, or more absolutely practical, than 
the attempt to keep the axle of a wheel from heating 
when the wheel turns round very fast? How useful 
for carters and gig drivers to know something about this; 
and how good were it, if any ingenious person would 

10 find out the cause of such phenomena, and thence educe 
a general remedy for them. Such an ingenious person 
was Count Rumford ; and he and his successors have landed 
us in the theory of the persistence, or indestructibility, of 
force. And in the infinitely minute, as in the infinitely 

IS great, the seekers after natural knowledge, of the kinds 
called physical and chemical, have everywhere found a 
definite order and succession of events which seem never to 
be infringed. 

And how has it fared with "Physick" and Anatomy? 

20 Have the anatomist, the physiologist, or the physician, 
whose business it has been to devote themselves assidu- 
ously to that eminently practical and direct end, the allevia- 
tion of the sufferings of mankind, have they been able 
to confine their vision more absolutely to the strictly use- 

25 ful ? I fear they are worst offenders of all. For if the 
astronomer has set before us the infinite magnitude of 
space, and the practical eternity of the duration of the 
universe; if the physical and chemical philosophers have 
demonstrated the infinite minuteness of its constituent 

30 parts, and the practical eternity of matter and of force; 
and if both have alike proclaimed the universality of a 
definite and predicable order and succession of events, 
the workers in biology have not only accepted all these, 
but have added more startling theses of their own. For, as 

Improving Natural Knowledge 43 

the astronomers discover in the earth no center of the uni- 
verse, but an eccentric speck, so the naturalists find man to 
be no center of the living world, but one amidst endless 
modifications of life; and as the astronomer observes the 
mark of practically endless time set upon the arrange- 5 
ments of the solar system so the student of life finds the 
records of ancient forms of existence peopling the world 
for ages, which, in relation to human experience, are in- 

Furthermore, the physiologist finds life to be as de- 10 
pendent for its manifestation on particular molecular 
arrangements as any physical or chemical phenomenon; 
and, wherever he extends his researches, fixed order and 
unchanging causation reveal themselves, as plainly as in 
the rest of Nature. 15 

Nor can I find that any other fate has awaited the 
germ of Religion. Arising, like all other kinds of knowl- 
edge, out of the action and interaction of man's mind, 
with that which is not man's mind, it has taken the in- 
tellectual coverings of Fetishism or Polytheism ; of Theism 20 
or Atheism; of Superstition or Rationalism. With these, 
and their relative merits and demerits, I have nothing to 
do ; but this it is needful for my purpose to say, that if the 
religion of the present differs from that of the past, it is 
because the theology of the present has become more 25 
scientific than that of the past; because it has not only 
renounced idols of wood and idols of stone, but begins 
to see the necessity of breaking in pieces the idols built 
up of books and traditions and fine-spun ecclesiastical cob- 
webs : and of cherishing the noblest and most human of 30 
man's emotions, by worship " for the most part of the 
silent sort " at the altar of the Unknown and Unknow- 

Such are a few of the new conceptions implanted in 

44 Selections from Huxley 

our minds by the improvement of natural knowledge. 
Men have acquired the ideas of the practically infinite 
extent of the universe and of its practical eternity; they 
are familiar with the conception that our earth is but an 

5 infinitesimal fragment of that part of the universe which 
can be seen ; and that, nevertheless, its duration is, as com- 
pared with our standards of time, infinite. They have 
further acquired the idea that man is but one of innumer- 
able forms of life now existing in the globe, and that 

10 the present existences are but the last of an immeasurable 
series of predecessors. Moreover, every step they have 
made in natural knowledge has tended to extend and rivet 
in their minds the conception of a definite order of the 
universe which is embodied in what are called, by an 

15 unhappy metaphor, the laws of Nature and to narrow 
the range and loosen the force of men's belief in spon- 
taneity, or in changes other than such as arise out of 
that definite order itself. 

Whether these ideas are well or ill founded is not the 

20 question. No one can deny that they exist, and have 
been the inevitable outgrowth of the improvement of natu- 
ral knowledge. And if so, it cannot be doubted that 
they are changing the form of men's most cherished and 
most important convictions. 

25 And as regards the second point the extent to which 
the improvement of natural knowledge has remodeled 
and altered what may be termed the intellectual ethics of 
men, what are among the moral convictions most fondly 
held by barbarous and semi-barbarous people? 

30 They are the convictions that authority is the soundest 
basis of belief; that merit attaches to a readiness to 
believe; that the doubting disposition is a bad one, and 
skepticism a sin; that when good authority has pro- 

Improving Natural Knowledge 45 

nounced what is to be believed, and faith has accepted 
it, reason has no further duty. There are many excellent 
persons who yet hold by these principles, and it is not my 
present business, or intention, to discuss their views. All 
I wish to bring clearly before your minds is the unques- 5 
tionable fact, that the improvement of natural knowledge 
is effected by methods which directly give the lie to all 
these convictions, and assume the exact reverse of each to 
be true. 

The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses 10 
to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism 
is the highest of duties ; blind faith the one unpardon- 
able sin. And it cannot be otherwise, for every great 
advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute 
rejection of authority, the cherishing of the keenest 15 
skepticism, the annihilation of the spirit of blind faith ; 
and the most ardent votary of science holds his firmest 
convictions, not because the men he most venerates hold 
them; not because their verity is testified by portents and 
wonders ; but because his experience teaches him that 20 
whenever he chooses to bring these convictions into con- 
tact with their primary source, Nature whenever he 
thinks fit to test them by appealing to experiment and 
to observation Nature will confirm them. The man of 
science has learned to believe in justification, not by 25 
faith, but by verification. 

Thus, without for a moment pretending to despise 
the practical results of the improvement of natural knowl- 
edge, and its beneficial influence on material civilization, 
it must, I think, be admitted that the great ideas, some 30 
of which I have indicated, and the ethical spirit which I 
have endeavored to sketch, in the few moments which re- 
mained at my disposal, constitute the real and permanent 
significance of natural knowledge. 

46 Selections from Huxley 

If these ideas be destined, as I believe they are, to 
be more and more firmly established as the world grows 
older; if that spirit be fated, as I believe it is, to extend 
itself into all departments of human thought, and to 
5 become co-extensive with the range of knowledge; if, 
as our race approaches its maturity, it discovers, as I be- 
lieve it will, that there is but one kind of knowledge and 
but one method of acquiring it; then we, who are still 
children, may justly feel it our highest duty to recognize 
10 the advisableness of improving natural knowledge, and 
so to aid ourselves and our successors in their course to- 
wards the noble goal which lies before mankind. 



THE business which the South London Working Men's 
College has undertaken is a great work; indeed, I might 
say, that education, with which that college proposes to 
grapple, is the greatest work of all those which lie ready 
to a man's hand just at present. 5 

And, at length, this fact is becoming generally recog- 
nized. You cannot go anywhere without hearing a buzz 
of more or less confused and contradictory talk on this 
subject nor can you fail to notice that, in one point at 
any rate, there is a very decided advance upon like dis- 10 
cussions in former days. Nobody outside the agricul- 
tural interest now dares to say that education is a bad 
thing. If any representative of the once large and power- 
ful party, which, in former days, proclaimed this opinion, 
still exists in a semi-fossil state, he keeps his thoughts 15 
to himself. In fact, there is a chorus of voices, almost 
distressing in their harmony, raised in favor of the doc- 
trine that education is the great panacea for human trou- 
bles, and that, if the country is not shortly to go to the 
dogs, everybody must be educated. 20 

The politicians tell us, " you must educate the masses 
because they are going to be masters." The clergy join 
in the cry for education, for they affirm that the people 
are drifting away from church and chapel into the broad- 


48 Selections from Huxley 

est infidelity. The manufacturers and the capitalists 
swell the chorus lustily. They declare that ignorance 
makes bad workmen ; that England will soon be unable to 
turn out cotton goods, or steam engines, cheaper than 
5 other people ; and then, Ichabod ! Ichabod ! the glory 
will be departed from us. And a few voices are lifted up 
in favor of the doctrine that the masses should be educated 
because they are men and women with unlimited capacities 
of being, doing, and suffering, and that it is as true now, 

10 as ever it was, that the people perish for lack of knowledge. 

These members of the minority, with whom I confess 

I have a good deal of sympathy, are doubtful whether 

any of the other reasons urged in favor of the education 

of the people are of much value whether, indeed, some 

15 of them are based upon either wise or noble grounds of 
action. They question if it be wise to tell people that 
you will do for them, out of fear of their power, what 
you have left undone, so long as your only motive was 
compassion for their weakness and their sorrows. And, if 

20 ignorance of everything which it is needful a ruler should 
know is likely to do so much harm in the governing 
classes of the future, why is it, they ask reasonably 
enough, that such ignorance in the governing classes of 
the past has not been viewed with equal horror? 

25 Compare the average artisan and the average country 
squire, and it may be doubted if you will find a pin to 
choose between the two in point of ignorance, class feeling, 
or prejudice. It is true that the ignorance is of a differ- 
ent sort that the class feeling is in favor of a different 

30 class, and that the prejudice has a distinct flavor of wrong- 
headedness in each case but it is questionable if the one 
is either a bit better, or a bit worse, than the other. The 
old protectionist theory is the doctrine of trades unions 
as applied by the squires, and the modern trades unionism 

A Liberal Education 49 

is the doctrine of the squires applied by the artisans. Why 
should we be worse off under one regime than under the 

Again, this skeptical minority asks the clergy to think 
whether it is really want of education which keeps the 5 
masses away from their ministrations whether the most 
completely educated men are not as open to reproach on 
this score as the workmen; and whether, perchance, this 
may not indicate that it is not education which lies at 
the bottom of the matter. 10 

Once more, these people, whom there is no pleasing, 
venture to doubt whether the glory, which rests upon 
being able to undersell all the rest of the world, is a very 
safe kind of glory whether we may not purchase it too 
dear; especially if we allow education, which ought to 15 
be directed to the making of men, to be diverted into a 
process of manufacturing human tools, wonderfully adroit 
in the exercise of some technical industry, but good for 
nothing else. 

And, finally, these people inquire whether it is the 20 
masses alone who need a reformed and improved educa- 
tion. They ask whether the richest of our public schools 
might not well be made to supply knowledge, as well as 
gentlemanly habits, a strong class feeling, and eminent 
proficiency in cricket. They seem to think that the noble 25 
foundations of our old universities are hardly fulfilling 
their functions in their present posture of half-clerical 
seminaries, half racecourses, where men are trained to win 
a senior wranglership, or a double-first, as horses are 
trained to win a cup, with as little reference to the needs 30 
of after-life in the case of the man as in that of the racer. 
And, while as zealous for education as the rest, they 
affirm that, if the education of the richer classes were 
such as to fit them to be the leaders and the governors 

50 Selections from Huxley 

of the poorer; and, if the education of the poorer classes 
were such as to enable them to appreciate really wise 
guidance and good governance; the politicians need not 
fear mob-law, nor the clergy lament their want of flocks, 
5 nor the capitalists prognosticate the annihilation of the 
prosperity of the country. 

Such is the diversity of opinion upon the why and the 
wherefore of education. And my hearers will be prepared 
to expect that the practical recommendations which are 

10 put forward are not less discordant. There is a loud 
cry for compulsory education. We English, in spite of 
constant experience to the contrary, preserve a touching 
faith in the efficacy of acts of parliament; and I believe 
we should have compulsory education in the course of 

15 next session, if there were the least probability that half 
a dozen leading statesmen of different parties would 
agree what that education should be. 

Some hold that education without theology is worse than 
none. Others maintain, quite as strongly, that educa- 

20 tion with theology is in the same predicament. But this 

is certain, that those who hold the first opinion can by no 

means agree what theology should be taught; and that 

those who maintain the second are in a small minority. 

At any rate " make people learn to read, write, and 

25 cipher," say a great many; and the advice is undoubtedly 
sensible as far as it goes. But, as has happened to me 
in former days, those who, in despair of getting anything 
better, advocate this measure, are met with the objec- 
tion that it is very like making a child practise the use 

30 of a knife, fork, and spoon, without giving it a particle 
of meat. I really don't know what reply is to be made to 
such an objection. 

But it would be unprofitable to spend more time in 
disentangling, or rather in showing up the knots in the 

A Liberal Education 51 

raveled skein of our neighbors. Much more to the 
purpose is it to ask if we possess any clue of our own 
which may guide us among these entanglements. And 
by way of , a beginning, let us ask ourselves What is 
education? Above all things, what is our ideal of a 5 
thoroughly liberal education? of that education which, 
if we could begin life again, we would give ourselves 
of that education which, if we could mold the fates to 
our own will, we would give our children. Well, I know 
not what may be your conceptions upon this matter, 10 
but I will tell you mine, and I hope I shall find that our 
views are not very discrepant. 

Suppose it were perfectly certain that the life and 
fortune of every one of us would, one day or other, de- 
pend upon his winning or losing a game at chess. Don't 15 
you think that we should all consider it to be a primary 
duty to learn at least the names and the moves of the 
pieces; to have a notion of a gambit, and a keen eye for 
all the means of giving and getting out of check? Do 
you not think that we should look with a disapprobation 20 
amounting to scorn, upon the father who allowed his son, 
or the state which allowed its members, to grow up 
without knowing a pawn from a knight? 

Yet it is a very plain and elementary truth, that the 
life, the fortune, and the happiness of every one of us, 25 
and, more or less, of those who are connected with us, do 
depend upon our knowing something of the rules of a 
game infinitely more difficult and complicated than chess. 
It is a game which has been played for untold ages, every 
man and woman of us being one of the two players in a 30 
game of his or her own. The chess-board is the world, 
the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules 
of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The 

52 Selections from Huxley 

player on the other side is hidden from us. We know 
that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also 
we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, 
or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the 
5 man who plays well, the highest stakes are paid, with that 
sort of overflowing generosity with which the strong 
shows delight in strength. Anokone who plays ill is check- 
mated without haste, but without remorse. 

My metaphor will remind some of you of the famous 

10 picture in which Retzsch has depicted Satan playing at 
chess with man for his soul. Substitute for the mocking 
fiend in that picture, a calm, strong angel who is playing 
for love, as we say, and would rather lose than win and 
I should accept it as an image of human life. 

Well, what I mean by education is learning the rules 
of this mighty game, hi other words, education is :the 
instruction of the intellect" in thg jaws of Nature, under 
wrnch~TTame I include not merely things and their forces, 
but men and their ways; and the fashioning of the affec- 
jEjonsjancT of trie willTlnto an earnest and loving desire 
to move in harmonv"with trioseTaw's. For me education 
means neither more nor less than this. Anything which 
professes to call itself education must be tried by this 
standard, and if it fails to stand the test, I will not call 
it education, whatever may be the force of authority, or of 
numbers, upon the other side. 

It is important to remember that, in strictness, there 
is no such thing as an uneducated man. Take an extreme 
case. Suppose that an adult man, in the full vigor of 

30 his faculties, could be suddenly placed in the world, as 
Adam is said to have been, and then left to do a$ he best 
might. How long would he be left uneducated ? Not five 
minutes. Nature would begin to teach him, through the 
eye, the ear, the touch, the properties of objects. Pain 

A Liberal Education 53 

and pleasure would be at his elbow telling him to do 
this and avoid that; and by slow degrees the man would 
receive an education, which, if narrow, would be thor- 
ough, real, and adequate to his circumstances, though 
there would be no extras and very few accomplishments. 5 

And if to this solitary man entered a second Adam, 
or, better still, an Eve, anew and greater world, that of 
social and moral phenomena, would be revealed. Joys 
and woes, compared with which all others might seem but 
faint shadows, would .spring from the new%elations. Hap- 10 
piness and sorrow woirW tale the place of the coarser 
monitors, pleasure and pain; but conduct would still be 
shaped by the observation of the natural consequences 
of actions ; or, in other words, by the laws or the nature of 
man. 15 

To every one of us the world was once as fresh and 
new as to Adam. And then, long before we were sus- 
ceptible of any other mode of instruction, Nature took 
us in hand, and every minute of waking life brought its 
educational influence, shaping our actions into rough ac- 20 
cordance with Nature's laws, so that we might not be 
ended untimely by too gross disobedience. Nor should 
I speak of this process of education as past, for any one, 
be he as old as he may. For every man, the world is as 
fresh as ij was at the first day, and as full of untold 25 
novelties for him who has the eyes to see them. And 
Nature is still continuing her patient education of us in 
that great university, the universe, of which we are all 
members Nature having no Test-Acts. 

Those who take honors in Nature's university, who 30 
learn the laws which govern men and things and obey 
them, are the really great and successful men in this 
world. The great mass of mankind are the " Poll," who 
pick up just enough to get through without much dis- 

54 Selections from Huxley 

credit. Those who won't learn at all are plucked; and 
then you can't come up again. Nature's pluck means 

Thus the question of compulsory education is settled 
5 so far as Nature is concerned. Her bill on that question 
was framed and passed long ago. But, like all com- 
pulsory legislation, that of Nature is harsh and wasteful 
in its operation. Ignorance is visited as sharply as wilful 
disobedience incapacity meets with the same punishment 

10 as crime. Nature's discipline is not even a word and a 
blow, and the blow first; but the blow without the 
word. It is left to you to find out why your ears are 

The object of what we commonly call education that 

15 education in which man intervenes and which I shall 
distinguish as artificial education is to make good these 

r defects in Nature's methods; to prepare the child to re- 
ceive Nature's education, neither incapably nor igno- 
rantly, nor with wilful disobedience; and to understand 
20 the preliminary symptoms of her displeasure, without 
waiting for the box on the ear. In short, all artificial 
education ought to be an anticipation of natural educa- 
tion. And a liberal education is an artificial education, 
which has not only prepared a man to escape the great 
25 evils of disobedience to natural laws, but has trained 
him to appreciate and to seize upon the rewards, which 
Nature scatters with as free a hand as her penalties. 

That man, I think, has had a liberal education, who 
has been so trained in youth that his body is the ready 
30 servant of his will, and does with ease and pleasure all 
the work that, as a mechanism, it is capable of; whose 
intellect is a clear, cold, logic engine, with all its parts 
of equal strength, and in smooth working order; ready, 
like a steam engine, to be turned to any kind of work, 

A Liberal Education 55 

and spin the gossamers as well as forge the anchors of 
the mind; whose mind is stored with a knowledge of 
the great and fundamental truths of Nature and of the 
laws of her operations; one who, no stunted ascetic, is 
full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to come 5 
to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender con- 
science; who has learned to love all beauty, whether of 
Nature or of art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others 
as himself. 

Such an one and no other, I conceive, has had a liberal 10 
education; for he is, as completely as a man can be, in 
harmony with Nature. He will make the best of her, 
and she of him. They will get on together rarely; she 
as his ever beneficent mother; he as her mouth-piece, her 
conscious self, her minister and interpreter. 15 

Where is such an education as this to be had ? Where 
is there any approximation to it? Has any one tried to 
found such an education? Looking over the length 
and breadth of these islands, I am afraid that all these 
questions must receive a negative answer. Consider our 20 
primary schools, and what is taught in them. A child 
learns : 

1. To read, write, and cipher, more or less well; but 
in a very large proportion of cases not so well as to take 
pleasure in reading, or to be able to write the commonest 25 
letter properly. 

2. A quantity of dogmatic theology, of which the child, 
nine times out of ten, understands next to nothing. 

3. Mixed up with this, so as to seem to stand or fall 
with it, a few of the broadest and simplest principles of 30 
morality. This, to my mind, is much as if a man of 
science should make the story of the fall of the apple in 
Newton's garden an integral part of the doctrine of 

56 Selections from Huxley 

gravitation, and teach it as of equal authority with the 
law of the inverse squares. 

4. A good deal of Jewish history and Syrian geography, 
and, perhaps, a little something about English history 

5 and the geography of the child's own country. But I 
doubt if there is a primary school in England in which 
hangs a map of the hundred in which the village lies, so 
that the children may be practically taught by it what 
a map means. 

10 5. A certain amount of regularity, attentive obedience, 
respect for others: obtained by fear, if the master be in- 
competent or foolish ; by love and reverence, if he be wise. 
So far as this school course embraces a training in 
the theory and practice of obedience to the moral laws 

15 of Nature, I gladly admit, not only that it contains a 
valuable educational element, but that, so far, it deals 
with the most valuable and important part of all educa- 
tion. Yet, contrast what is done in this direction with 
what might be done; with the time given to matters of 

20 comparatively no importance ; with the absence of any 
attention to things of the highest moment; and one is 
tempted to think of Falstaff's bill and " the halfpenny 
worth of bread to all that quantity of sack." 

Let us consider what a child thus " educated " knows, 

25 and what it does not know. Begin with the most im- 
portant topic of all morality, as the guide of conduct. 
The child knows well enough that some acts meet with 
approbation and some with disapprobation. But it has 
never, heard that there lies in the nature of things a 

30 reason for every moral law, as cogent and as well defined 
as that which underlies every physical law; that stealing 
and lying are just as certain to be followed by evil con- 
sequences, as putting your hand in the fire, or jumping 
out of a garret window. Again, though the scholar may 

A Liberal Education 57 

have been made acquainted, in dogmatic fashion, with 
the broad laws of morality, he has had no training in 
the application of those laws to the difficult problems which 
result from the complex conditions of modern civilization. 
Would it not be very hard to expect any one to solve 5 
a problem in conic sections who had merely been taught 
the axioms and definitions of mathematical science? 

A workman has to bear hard labor, and perhaps priva- 
tion, while he sees others rolling in wealth, and feeding 
their dogs with what would keep his children from starva- 10 
tion. Would it not be well to have helped that man to 
calm the natural promptings of discontent by showing 
him, in his youth, the necessary connection of the moral 
law which prohibits stealing with the stability of society 
by proving to him, once for all, that it is better for his 15 
own people, better for himself, better for future genera- 
tions, that he should starve than steal? If you have no 
foundation of knowledge, or habit of thought, to work 
upon, what chance have you of persuading a hungry 
man that a capitalist is not a thief " with a circum- 20 
bendibus"? And if he honestly believes that, of what 
avail is it to quote the commandment against stealing, 
when he proposes to make the capitalist disgorge? 

Again, the child learns absolutely nothing of the history 
or the political organization of his own country. His 25 
general impression is, that everything ol much importance 
happened a very long while ago; and that the Queen 
and the gentlefolks govern the country much after the 
fashion of King David and the elders and nobles of 
Israel his sole models. Will you give a man with this 30 
much information a vote? In easy times he sells it for a 
pot of beer. Why should he not? It is of about as 
much use to him as a chignon, and he knows as much 
what to do with it, for any other purpose. In bad times, 

58 Selections from Huxley 

on the contrary, he applies his simple theory of govern- 
ment, and believes that his rulers are the cause of his suf- 
ferings a belief which sometimes bears remarkable prac- 
tical fruits. 

5 Least of all, does the child gather from this primary 
" education " of ours a conception of the laws of the 
physical world, or of the relations of cause and effect 
therein. And this is the more to be lamented, as the 
poor are especially exposed to physical evils, and are 

10 more interested in removing them than any other class 
of the community. If any one is concerned in knowing 
the ordinary laws of mechanics one would think it is the 
hand-laborer, whose daily toil lies among levers and 
pulleys; or among the other implements of artisan work. 

15 And if any one is interested in the laws of health, it is 
the poor workman, whose strength is wasted by ill-pre- 
pared food, whose health is sapped by bad ventilation and 
bad drainage, and half whose children are massacred by 
disorders which might be prevented. Not only does our 

20 present primary education carefully abstain from hinting 
to the workman that some of his greatest evils are trace- 
able to mere physical agencies, which could be removed 
by energy, patience, and frugality; but it does worse 
it renders him, so far as it can, deaf to those who could 

25 help him, and tries to substitute an Oriental submission 
to what is falsely declared to be the will of God, for his 
natural tendency to strive after a better condition. 

What wonder, then, If very recently an appeal has 
been made to statistics for the profoundly foolish pur- 

30 pose of showing that education is of no good that it 
diminishes neither misery, nor crime, among the masses 
of mankind? I reply, why should the thing which has 
been called education do either the one or the other? If 
I am a knave or a fool, teaching me to read and write 

A Liberal Education 59 

won't make me less of either one or the other unless 
somebody shows me how to put my reading and writing 
to wise and good purposes. 

Suppose any one were to argue that medicine is of no 
use, because it could be proved statistically, that the 5 
percentage of deaths was just the same, among people 
who had been taught how to open a medicine chest, and 
among those who did not so much as know the key by 
sight. The argument is absurd; but it is not more pre- 
posterous than that against which I am contending. The 10 
only medicine for suffering, crime, and all the other woes 
of mankind, is wisdom. Teach a man to read and write, 
and you have put into his hands the great keys of the 
wisdom box. But it is quite another matter whether he 
ever opens the box or not. And he is as likely to poison 15 
as to cure himself, if, without guidance, he swallows 
the first drug that comes to hand. In these times a 
man may as well be purblind, as unable to read lame, as 
unable to write. But I protest that, if I thought the 
alternative were a necessary one, I would rather that 20 
the children of the poor should grow up ignorant of 
both these mighty arts, than that they should remain 
ignorant of that knowledge to which these arts are 

It may be said that all these animadversions may 25 
apply to primary schools, but that the higher schools, at 
any rate, must be allowed to give a liberal education. 
In fact, they professedly sacrifice everything else to this 

Let us inquire into this matter. What do the higher 30 
schools, those to which the great middle class of the 
country sends its children, teach, over and above the in- 
struction given in the primary schools? There is a little 

60 Selections from Huxley 

more reading and writing of English. But, for all that, 
every one knows that it is a rare thing to find a boy of 
the middle or upper classes who can read aloud decently, 
or who can put his thoughts on paper in clear and gram- 
5 matical (to say nothing of good or elegant) language. 
The " ciphering " of the lower schools expands into ele- 
mentary mathematics in the higher; into arithmetic, with 
a little algebra, a little Euclid. But I doubt if one boy 
in five hundred has ever heard the explanation of a rule 

10 of arithmetic, or knows his Euclid otherwise than by 

Of theology, the middle class schoolboy gets rather 
less than poorer children, less absolutely and less rela- 
tively, because there are so many other claims upon his 

15 attention. I venture to say that, in the great majority 
of cases, his ideas on this subject when he leaves school 
are of the most shadowy and vague description, and asso- 
ciated with painful impressions of the weary hours spent 
in learning collects and catechism by heart. 

20 Modern geography, modern history, modern literature, 
the English language as a language; the whole circle 
of the sciences, physical, moral, and social, are even more 
completely ignored in the higher than in the lower schools. 
Up till within a few years back, a boy might have passed 

25 through any one of the great public schools with the 
greatest distinction and credit, and might never so much 
as have heard of one of the subjects I have just men- 
tioned. He might never have heard that the earth goes 
round the sun; that England underwent a great revolu- 

30 tion in 1688, and France another in 1789; that there 
once lived certain notable men called Chaucer, Shake- 
speare, Milton, Voltaire, Goethe, Schiller. The first 
might be a German and the last an Englishman for any- 
thing he could tell you to the contrary. And as for 

A Liberal Education 61 

science, the only idea the word would suggest to his mind 
would be dexterity in boxing. 

I have said that this was the state of things a few 
years back, for the sake of the few righteous who are 
to be found among the educational cities of the plain. 5 
But I would not have you too sanguine about the result, 
if you sound the minds of the existing generation of 
public schoolboys, on such topics as those I have men- 

Now let us pause to consider this wonderful state of 10 
affairs; for the time will come when Englishmen will 
quote it as the stock example of the stolid stupidity of 
their ancestors in the nineteenth century. The most 
thoroughly commercial people, the greatest voluntary 
wanderers and colonists the world has ever seen, are 15 
precisely the middle classes of this country. If there be 
a people which has been busy making history on the 
great scale for the last three hundred years and the 
most profoundly interesting history history which, if 
it happened to be that of Greece or Rome, we should 20 
study with avidity it is the English. If there be a people 
which, during the same period, has developed a re- 
markable literature, it is our own. If there be a nation 
whose prosperity depends absolutely and wholly upon 
their mastery over the forces of Nature, upon their in- 25 
telligent apprehension of, and obedience to, the laws of 
the creation and distribution of wealth, and of the stable 
equilibrium of the forces of society, it is precisely this 
nation. And yet this is what these wonderful people 
tell their sons: "At the cost of from one to two thou- 30 
.sand pounds of our hard earned money, we devote twelve 
of the most precious years of your lives to school. There 
you shall toil, or be supposed to toil; but there you shall 
not learn one single thing of all those you will most 

62 Selections from Huxley 

want to know, directly you leave school and enter upon 
the practical business of life. You will in all probability 
go into business, but you shall not know where, or 
how, any article of commerce is produced, or the dif- 
5 ference between an export or an import, or the meaning 
of the word ' capital.' You will very likely settle in a 
colony, but you shall not know whether Tasmania is part 
of New South Wales, or vice versa. 

" Very probably you may become a manufacturer, but 
10 you shall not be provided with the means of under- 
standing the working of one of your own steam-engines, 
or the nature of the raw products you employ; and, 
when you are asked to buy a patent, you shall not have 
the slightest means of judging whether the inventor is 
15 an impostor who is contravening the elementary prin- 
ciples of science, or a man who will make you as rich 
as Croesus. 

" You will very likely get into the House of Commons. 
You will have to take your share in making laws which 
20 may prove a blessing or a curse to millions of men. 
But you shall not hear one word respecting the political 
organization of your country; the meaning of the con- 
troversy between freetraders and protectionists shall never 
have been mentioned to you; you shall not so much as 
25 know that there are such things as economic laws. 

" The mental power which will be of most importance 
in your daily life will be the power of seeing things as 
they are without regard to authority; and of drawing 
accurate general conclusions from particular facts. But 
30 at school and at college you shall know of no source of 
truth but authority; nor exercise your reasoning faculty 
upon anything but deduction from that which is laid 
down by authority. 

"You will have to weary your soul with work, and 

A Liberal Education 63 

many a time eat your bread in sorrow and in bitterness, 
and you shall not have learned to take refuge in the 
great source of pleasure without alloy, the serene resting- . 
place for worn human nature, the world of art." 

Said I not rightly that we are a wonderful people? 5 
I am quite prepared to allow, that education entirely de- 
voted to these omitted subjects might not be a completely 
liberal education. But is an education which ignores 
them all, a liberal education? Nay, is it too much to 
say that the education which should embrace these sub- 10 
jects and no others, would be a real education, though 
an incomplete one; while an education which omits them 
is really not an education at all, but a more or less useful 
course of intellectual gymnastics? 

For what does the middle-class school put in the place 15 
of all these things which are left out? It substitutes 
what is usually comprised under the compendious title 
of the "classics" that is to say, the languages, the 
literature, and the history of the ancient Greeks and 
Romans, and the geography of so much of the world 20 
as was known to these two great nations of antiquity. 
Now, do not expect me to depreciate the earnest and 
enlightened pursuit of classical learning. I have not 
the least idea to speak ill of such occupations, nor any 
sympathy with those who run them down. On the 25 
contrary, if my opportunities had lain in that direction, 
there is no investigation into which I could have thrown 
myself with greater delight than that of antiquity. 

What science can present greater attractions than 
philology? How can a lover of literary excellence fail 30 
to rejoice in the ancient masterpieces? And with what 
consistency could I, whose business lies so much in the 
attempt to decipher the past, and to build up intelligible 

64 Selections from Huxley 

forms out of the scattered fragments of long-extinct beings, 
fail to take a sympathetic, though an unlearned, interest 
in the labors of a Niebuhr, a Gibbon, or a Grote? 
Classical history is a great section of the paleontology of 
5 man ; and I have the same double respect for it as for 
other kinds of paleontology that is to say, a respect 
for the facts which it establishes as for all facts, and a 
still greater respect for it as a preparation for the dis- 
covery of a law of progress. 

10 But if the classics were taught as they might be 
taught if boys and girls were instructed in Greek and 
Latin, not merely as languages, but as illustrations of 
philological science; if a vivid picture of life on the 
shores of the Mediterranean, two thousand years ago, 

15 were imprinted on the minds of scholars ; if ancient his- 
tory were taught, not as a weary series of feuds and 
rights, but traced to its causes in such men placed under 
such conditions; if, lastly, the study of the classical books 
were followed in such a manner as to impress boys with 

20 their beauties, and with the grand simplicity of their 
statement of the everlasting problems of human life, in- 
stead of with their verbal and grammatical peculiarities; 
I still think it as little proper that they should form the 
basis of a liberal education for our contemporaries, as 

25 I should think it fitting to make that sort of paleontology 
with which I am familiar, the backbone of modern 

It is wonderful how close a parallel to classical train- 
ing could be made out of that paleontology to which I 

30 refer. In the first place I could get up an osteological 
primer so arid, so pedantic in its terminology, so alto- 
gether distasteful to the youthful mind, as to beat the 
recent famous production of the head-masters out of the 
field in all these excellences. Next, I could exercise my 

A Liberal Education 65 

boys upon easy fossils, and bring out all their powers 
of memory and all their ingenuity in the application 
of my osteo-grammatical rules to the interpretation, or 
construing, of those fragments. To those who had reached 
the higher classes, I might supply odd bones to be built 5 
up into animals, giving great honor and reward to him 
who succeeded in fabricating monsters most entirely in 
accordance with the rules. That would answer to verse- 
making and essay-writing in the dead languages. 

To be sure, if a great comparative anatomist were to 10 
look at these fabrications he might shake his head or 
laugh. But what then? Would such a catastrophe 
destroy the parallel? What think you would Cicero, or 
Horace, say to the production of the best sixth form 
going? And would not Terence stop his ears and run 15 
out if he could be present at an English performance of 
his own plays? Would Hamlet, in the mouths of a set 
of French actors, who should insist on pronouncing Eng- 
lish after the fashion of their own tongue, be more 
hideously ridiculous? 20 

But it will be said that I am forgetting the beauty, and 
the human interest, which appertain to classical studies. 
To this I reply that it is only a very strong man who 
can appreciate the charms of a landscape, as he is toiling 
up a steep hill, along a bad road. What with short- 25 
windedness, stones, ruts, and a pervading sense of the 
wisdom of rest and be thankful, most of us have little 
enough sense of the beautiful under these circumstances. 
The ordinary schoolboy is precisely in this case. He finds 
Parnassus uncommonly steep, and there is no chance of 30 
his having much time or inclination to look about him till 
he gets to the top. And nine times out of ten he does not 
get to the top. 

But if this be a fair picture of the results of classical 

66 Selections from Huxley 

teaching at its best and I gather from those who have 
authority to speak on such matters that it is so what is to 
be said of classical teaching at its worst, or in other 
words, of the classics of our ordinary middle-class 
5 schools?* I will tell you. It means getting up endless 
forms and rules by heart. It means turning Latin and 
Greek into English, for the mere sake of being able to 
do it, and without the smallest regard to the worth, or 
worthlessness, of the author read. It means the learn- 

10 ing of innumerable, not always decent, fables in such a 
shape that the meaning they once had is dried up into 
utter trash; and the only impression left upon a boy's 
mind is, that the people who believed such things must 
have been the greatest idiots the world ever saw. And 

15 it means, finally, that after a dozen years spent at this 
kind of work, the sufferer shall be incompetent to in- 
terpret a passage in an author he has not already got up; 
that he shall loathe the sight of a Greek or Latin book; 
and that he shall never open, or think of, a classical writer 

20 again, until, wonderful to relate, he insists upon sub- 
mitting his sons to the same process. 

These be your gods, O Israel! For the sake of this 
net result (and respectability) the British father denies 
his children all the knowledge they might turn to account 

25 in life, not merely for the achievement of vulgar success, 
but for guidance in the great crises of human existence. 
This is the stone he offers to those whom he is bound by 
the strongest and tenderest ties to feed with bread. 

If primary and secondary education are in this un- 

30 satisfactory state, what is to be said to the universities? 

This is an awful subject, and one I almost fear to touch 

* For a justification of what is here said about these schools, 
see that valuable book, Essays on a Liberal Education. 

A Liberal Education 67 

with my unhallowed hands ; but I can tell you what those 
say who have authority to speak. 

The Rector of Lincoln College, in his lately published 
valuable Suggestions for Academical Organization with 
Especial Reference to Oxford, tells us (p. 127) : 5 

"The colleges were, in their origin, endowments, not 
for the elements of a general liberal education, but for 
the prolonged study of special and professional faculties 
by men of riper age. The universities embraced both these 
objects. The colleges, while they incidentally aided in 10 
elementary education, were specially devoted to the high- 
est learning. . . . 

" This was the theory of the middle-age university and 
the design of collegiate foundations in their origin. Time 
and circumstances have brought about a total change. 15 
The colleges no longer promote the researches of science, 
or direct professional study. Here and there college 
walls may shelter an occasional student, but not in larger 
proportions than may be found in private life. Elementary 
teaching of youths under twenty is now the only function 20 
performed by the university, and almost the only object 
of college endowments. Colleges were homes for the life- 
study of the highest and most abstruse parts of knowl- 
edge. They have become boarding schools in which the 
elements of the learned languages are taught to 25 

If Mr. Pattison's high position, and his obvious love 
and respect for his university, be insufficient to convince 
the outside world that language so severe is yet no more 
than just, the authority of the Commissioners who re- 30 
ported on the University of Oxford in 1850 is open to 
no challenge. Yet they write: 

" It is generally acknowledged that both Oxford and 
the country at large suffer greatly from the absence of a 

68 Selections from Huxley 

body of learned men devoting their lives to the cultivation 
of science, and to the direction of academical education. 

" The fact that so few books of profound research 
emanate from the University of Oxford, materially im- 
5 pairs its character as a seat of learning, and consequently 
its hold on the respect of the nation." 

Cambridge can claim no exemption from the reproaches 
addressed to Oxford. And thus there seems no escape 
from the admission that what we fondly call our great 

10 seats of learning are simply " boarding schools " for bigger 
boys; that learned men are not more numerous in them 
than out of them ; that the advancement of knowledge is 
not the object of fellows of colleges; that, in the philo- 
sophic calm and meditative stillness of their green- 

15 swarded courts, philosophy does not thrive, and meditation 
bears few fruits. 

It is my great good fortune to reckon amongst my 
friends resident members of both universities, who are 
men of learning and research, zealous cultivators of 

20 science, keeping before their minds a noble ideal of a 
university, and doing their best to make that ideal a 
reality; and, to me, they would necessarily typify the uni- 
versities, did not the authoritative statements I have 
quoted compel me to believe that they are exceptional, 

25 and not representative men. Indeed, upon calm con- 
sideration, several circumstances lead me to think that 
the Rector of Lincoln College and the Commissioners 
cannot be far wrong. 

I believe there can be no doubt that the foreigner 

30 who should wish to become acquainted with the scientific, 
or the literary, activity of modern England, would simply 
lose his time and his pains if he visited our universities 
with that object. 

And, as for works of profound research on any subject, 

A Liberal Education 69 

and, above all, in that classical lore for which the uni- 
versities profess to sacrifice almost everything else, why, 
a -third-rate, poverty-stricken German university turns 
out more produce of that kind in one year, than our vast 
and wealthy foundations elaborate in ten. 5 

Ask the man who is investigating any question, pro- 
foundly and thoroughly be it historical, philosophical, 
philological, physical, literary, or theological; who is try- 
ing to make himself master of any abstract subject (except, 
perhaps, political economy and geology, both of which 10 
are intensely Anglican sciences), whether he is not com- 
pelled to read half a dozen times as many German, as 
English, books? And whether, of these English books, 
more than one in ten is the work of a fellow of a college, 
or a professor of an English university? 15 

Is this from any lack of power in the English as com- 
pared with the German mind ? The countrymen of Grote 
and of Mill, of Faraday, of Robert Brown, of Lyell, and 
of Darwin, to go no further back than the contemporaries 
of men of middle age, can afford to smile at such a sug- 20 
gestion. England can show now, as she has been able to 
show in every generation since civilization spread over 
the West, individual men who hold their own against the 
world, and keep alive the old tradition of her intellectual 
eminence. 25 

But, in the majority of cases, these men are what they 
are in virtue of their native intellectual force, and of a 
strength of character which will not recognize impedi- 
ments. They are not trained in the courts of the Temple 
of Science, but storm the walls of that edifice in all sorts of 30 
irregular ways, and with much loss of time and power, in 
order to obtain their legitimate positions. 

Our universities not only do not encourage such men; 
do not offer them positions, in which it should be their 

7O Selections from Huxley 

highest duty to do, thoroughly, that which they are most 
capable of doing; but, as far as possible, university train- 
ing shuts out of the minds of those among them, who 'are 
subjected to it, the prospect that there is anything in 
5 the world for which they are specially fitted. Imagine 
the success of the attempt to still the intellectual hunger 
of any of the men I have mentioned, by putting before 
him, as the object of existence, the successful mimicry 
of the measure of a Greek song, or the roll of Ciceronian 

10 prose ! Imagine how much success would be likely to 
attend the attempt to persuade such men, that the educa- 
tion which leads to perfection in such elegancies is alone 
to be called culture ; while the facts of history, the process 
of thought, the conditions of moral and social existence, 

15 and the laws of physical nature, are left to be dealt with 
as they may, by outside barbarians! 

It is not thus that the German universities, from being 
beneath notice a century ago, have become what they 
are now the most intensely cultivated and the most pro- 

20 ductive intellectual corporations the world has ever seen. 

The student who repairs to them sees in the list of 

classes and of professors a fair picture of the world of 

knowledge. Whatever he needs to know there is some 

one ready to teach him, some one competent to discipline 

25 him in the way of learning; whatever his special bent, 
let him but be able and diligent, and in due time he shall 
find distinction and a career. Among his professors, he 
sees men whose names are known and revered throughout 
the civilized world; and their living example infects 

30 him with a noble ambition, and a love for the spirit of 

The Germans dominate the intellectual world by virtue 
of the same simple secret as that which made Napoleon 
the master of old Europe. They have declared la carriere 

A Liberal Education 71 

ouverte aux talents, and every Bursch marches with a 
professor's gown in his knapsack. Let him become a great 
scholar, or man of science, and ministers will compete for 
his services. In Germany, they do not leave the chance 
of his holding the office he would render illustrious to the 5 
tender mercies of a hot canvass, and the final wisdom of a 
mob of country parsons. 

In short, in Germany, the universities are exactly what 
the Rector of Lincoln and the Commissioners tell us the 
English universities are not; that is to say, corporations 10 
" of learned men devoting their lives to the cultivation 
of science, and the direction of academical education." 
They are not " boarding schools for youths," nor clerical 
seminaries; but institutions for the higher culture of 
men, in which the theological faculty is of no more im- 15 
portance, or prominence, than the rest; and which are 
truly " universities," since they strive to represent and 
embody the totality of human knowledge, and to find 
room for all forms of intellectual activity. 

May zealous and clear-headed reformers like Mr. Pat- 20 
tison succeed in their noble endeavors to shape our 
universities towards some such ideal as this, without los- 
ing what is valuable and distinctive in their social tone! 
But until they have succeeded, a liberal education will 
be no more obtainable in our Oxford and Cambridge 25 
Universities than in our public schools. 


If I am justified in my conception of the ideal of a 
liberal education; and if what I have said about the 
existing educational institutions of the country is also 
true, it is clear that the two have no sort of relation 30 
to one another; that the best of our schools and the most 
complete of our university trainings give but a narrow, 
one-sided, and essentially illiberal education while the 

72 Selections from Huxley 

worst give what is really next to no education at all. 
The South London Working Men's College could not 
copy any of these institutions if it would. I am bold 
enough to express the conviction that it ought not if it 

5 could. 

For what is wanted is the reality and not the mere 
name of a liberal education ; and this College must steadily 
set before itself the ambition to be able to give that educa- 
tion sooner or later. At present we are but beginning, 

10 sharpening our educational tools, as it were, and, except 
a modicum of physical science, we are not able to offer 
much more than is to be found in an ordinary school. 

Moral and social science one of the greatest and most 
fruitful of our future classes, I hope at present lacks 

15 only one thing in our program, and that is a teacher. A 
considerable want, no doubt; but it must be recollected 
that it is much better to want a teacher than to want 
the desire to learn. 

Further, we need what, for want of a better name, 

20 1 must call physical geography. What I mean is that 
which the Germans call " Erdkunde." It is a descrip- 
tion of the earth, of its place and relation to other bodies; 
of its general structure, and of its great features winds, 
tides, mountains, plains ; of the chief forms of the vege- 

25 table and animal worlds, of the varieties of man. It is the 
peg upon which the greatest quantity of useful and enter- 
taining scientific information can be suspended. 

Literature is not upon the College program; but I 
hope some day to see it there. For literature is the 

30 greatest of all sources of refined pleasure, and one of 
the great uses of a liberal education is to enable us to 
enjoy that pleasure. There is scope enough for the pur- 
poses of liberal education in the study of the rich treasures 
of our own language alone. All that is needed is direction, 

A Liberal Education 73 

and the cultivation of a refined taste by attention to sound 
criticism. But there is no reason why French and Ger- 
man should not be mastered sufficiently to read what 
is worth reading in those languages, with pleasure and 
with profit. 5 

And finally, by-and-by, we must have history; treated 
not as a succession of battles and dynasties; not as a 
series of biographies; not as evidence that Providence has 
always been on the side of either Whigs or Tories; but as 
the development of man in times past, and in other condi- 10 
tions than our own. 

But, as it is one of the principles of our College to be 
self-supporting, the public must lead, and we must follow, 
in these matters. If my hearers take to heart what I have 
said about liberal education, they will desire these things, 15 
and I doubt not we shall be able to supply them. But 
we must wait till the demand is made. 


IF a well were to be sunk at our feet in the midst of 

the city of Norwich, the diggers would very soon find 

themselves at work in that white substance almost too 

soft to be called rock, with which we are all familiar as 

5 " chalk." 

Not only here, but over the whole county of Norfolk, 
the well-sinker might carry his shaft down many hundred 
feet without coming to the end of the chalk; and, on 
the sea-coast, where the waves have pared away the face 
10 of the land which breasts them, the scarped faces of the 
high cliffs are often wholly formed of the same material. 
Northward, the chalk may be followed as far as York- 
shire; on the south coast it appears abruptly in the 
picturesque western bays of Dorset, and breaks into the 
15 Needles of the Isle of Wight; while on the shores of 
Kent it supplies that long line of white cliffs to which 
England owes her name of Albion. 

Were the thin soil which covers it all washed away, 
a curved band of white chalk, here broader, and there 
20 narrower, might be followed diagonally across England 
from Lulworth in Dorset, to Flamborough Head in 
Yorkshire a distance of over 280 miles as the crow 

From this band to the North Sea, on the east, and the 

25 Channel, on the south, the chalk is largely hidden by 

other deposits; but, except in the Weald of Kent and 


On a Piece of Chalk 75 

Sussex, it enters into the very foundation of all the 
south-eastern counties. 

Attaining, as it does in some places, a thickness of 
more than a thousand feet, the English chalk must be 
admitted to be a mass of considerable magnitude. Never- 5 
theless, it covers but an insignificant portion of the 
whole area occupied by the chalk formation of the globe, 
which has precisely the same general characters as ours, 
and is found in detached patches, some less, and others 
more extensive, than the English. 10 

Chalk occurs in north-west Ireland; it stretches over 
a large part of France, the chalk which underlies Paris 
being, in fact, a continuation of that of the London 
basin; it runs through Denmark and Central Europe, and 
extends southward to North Africa; while eastward, it 15 
appears in the Crimea and in Syria, and may be traced 
as far as the shores of the Sea of Aral, in Central Asia. 

If all the points at which true chalk occurs were 
circumscribed, they would lie within an irregular oval 
about 3,000 miles in long diameter the area of which 20 
would be as great as that of Europe, and would many 
times exceed that of the largest existing inland sea the 

Thus the chalk is no unimportant element in the 
masonry of the earth's crust, and it impresses a peculiar 25 
stamp, varying with the conditions to which it is exposed, 
on the scenery of the districts in which it occurs. The 
undulating downs and rounded coombs, covered with 
sweet-grassed turf, of our inland chalk country, have a 
peacefully domestic and mutton-suggesting prettiness, but 30 
can hardly be called either grand or beautiful. But on 
our southern coasts, the wall-sided cliffs, many hundred 
feet high, with vast needles and pinnacles standing out in 
the sea, sharp and solitary enough to serve as perches for 

76 Selections from Huxley 

the wary cormorant, confer a wonderful beauty and 
grandeur upon the chalk headlands. And, in the East, 
chalk has its share in the formation of some of the most 
venerable of mountain ranges, such as the Lebanon. 

5 What is this wide-spread component of the surface of 
the earth? and whence did it come? 

You may think this no very hopeful inquiry. You 
may not unnaturally suppose that the attempt to solve 
such problems as these can lead to no result, save that 

10 of entangling the inquirer in vague speculations, incapable 
of refutation and of verification. 

If such were really the case, I should have selected 
some other subject than a "piece of chalk" for my dis- 
course. But, in truth, after much deliberation, I have 

15 been unable to think of any topic which would so well 
enable me to lead you to see how solid is the foundation 
upon which some of the most startling conclusions of 
physical science rest. 

A great chapter of the history of the world is written 

20 in the chalk. Few passages in the history of man can 
be supported by such an overwhelming mass of direct and 
indirect evidence as that which testifies to the truth of the 
fragment of the history of the globe, which I hope to 
enable you to read, with your own eyes, to-night. 

25 Let me add, that few chapters of human history have 
a more profound significance for ourselves. I weigh my 
words well when I assert, that the man who should know 
the true history of the bit of chalk which every carpenter 
carries about in his breeches-pocket, though ignorant of all 

30 other history, is likely, if he will think his knowledge 
out to its ultimate results, to have a truer, and therefore 
a better, conception of this wonderful universe, and of 
man's relation to it, than the most learned student who 

On a Piece of Chalk 77 

is deep-read in the records of humanity and ignorant of 
those of Nature. 

The language of the chalk is not hard to learn, not 
nearly so hard as Latin, if you only want to get at the 
broad features of the story it has to tell; and I pro- 5 
pose that we now set to work to spell that story out 

We all know that if we " burn " chalk the result is 
quicklime. Chalk, in fact, is a compound of carbonic 
acid gas, and lime, and when you make it very hot the 10 
carbonic acid flies away and the lime is left. 

By this method of procedure we see the lime, but we 
do not see the carbonic acid. If, on the other hand, you 
were to powder a little chalk and drop it into a good 
deal of strong vinegar, there would be a great bubbling 15 
and fizzing, and, finally, a clear liquid, in which no sign 
of chalk would appear. Here you see the carbonic acid 
in the bubbles; the lime, dissolved in the vinegar, vanishes 
from sight. There are a great many other ways of show- 
ing that chalk is essentially nothing but carbonic acid and 20 
quicklime. Chemists enunciate the result of all the ex- 
periments which prove this, by stating that chalk is almost 
wholly composed of " carbonate of lime." 

It is desirable for us to start from the knowledge of 
this fact, though it may not seem to help us very far 25 
towards what we seek. For carbonate of lime is a widely- 
spread substance, and is met with under very various 
conditions. All sorts of limestones are composed of more 
or less pure carbonate of lime. The crust which is often 
deposited by waters which have drained through limestone 30 
rocks, in the form of what are called stalagmites and 
stalactites, is carbonate of lime. Or, to take a more 
familiar example, the fur on the inside of the teakettle 
is carbonate of lime; and, for anything chemistry tells us, 

78 Selections from Huxley 

to the contrary, the chalk might be a kind of gigantic fur 
upon the bottom of the earth-kettle, which is kept pretty 
hot below. 

Let us try another method of making the chalk tell 
5 us its own history. To the unassisted eye chalk looks 
simply like a very loose and open kind of stone. But 
it is possible to grind a slice of chalk down so thin that 
you can see through it until it is thin enough, in fact, 
to be examined with any magnifying power that may 

10 be thought desirable. A thin slice of the fur of a kettle 

might be made in the same way. If it were examined 

microscopically, it would show itself to be more or less 

distinctly laminated mineral substance and nothing more. 

But the slice of chalk presents a totally different 

15 appearance when placed under the microscope. The 
general mass of it is made up of very minute granules; 
but, imbedded in this matrix, are innumerable bodies, 
some smaller and some larger, but, on a rough average, 
not more than a hundredth of an inch in diameter, 

20 having a well-defined shape and structure. A cubic inch 
of some specimens of chalk may contain hundreds of thou- 
sands of these bodies, compacted together with incal- 
culable millions of the granules. 

The examination of a transparent slice gives a good 

25 notion of the manner in which the components of the 
chalk are arranged, and of their relative proportions. 
But, by rubbing up some chalk with a brush in water 
and then pouring off the milky fluid, so as to obtain 
sediments of different degrees of fineness, the granules 

30 and the minute rounded bodies may be pretty well sepa- 
rated from one another, and submitted to microscopic 
examination, either as opaque or as transparent objects. 
By combining the views obtained in these various methods, 
each of the rounded bodies may be proved to be a beau- 

On a Piece of Chalk 79 

tifully-constructed calcareous fabric, made up of a num- 
ber of chambers, communicating freely with one another. 
The chambered bodies are of various forms. One of the 
commonest is something like a badly-grown raspberry, 
being formed of a number of nearly globular chambers 5 
of different sizes congregated together. It is called 
Globigerina, and some specimens of chalk consist of little 
else than Globigerina and granules. 

Let us fix our attention upon the Globigerina. It is 
the spoor of the game we are tracking. If we can learn 10 
what it is and what are the conditions of its existence, 
we shall see our way to the origin and past history of 
the chalk. 

A suggestion which may naturally enough present itself 
is, that these curious bodies are the result of some process 15 
of aggregation which has taken place in the carbonate 
of lime; that, just as in winter the rime on our windows 
simulates the most delicate and elegantly arborescent 
foliage proving that the mere mineral water may, under 
certain conditions, assume the outward form of organic 20 
bodies so this mineral substance, carbonate of lime, hid- 
den away in the bowels of the earth, has taken the shape 
of these chambered bodies. I am not raising a merely 
fanciful and unreal objection. Very learned men, in 
former days, have even entertained the notion that all 25 
the formed things found in rocks are of this nature; and 
if no such conception is at present held to be admissible, 
it is because long and varied experience has now shown 
that mineral matter never does assume the form and 
structure we find in fossils. If any one were to try to 30 
persuade you that an oyster-shell (which is also chiefly 
composed of carbonate of lime) had crystallized out of 
sea-water, I suppose you would laugh at the absurdity. 
Your laughter would be justified by the fact that all ex- 

8o Selections from Huxley 

perience tends to show that oyster-shells are formed by 
the agency of oysters, and in no other way. And if there 
were no better reasons, we should be justified, on like 
grounds, in believing that Globigerina is not the product 
5 of anything but vital activity. 

Happily, however, better evidence in proof of the or- 
ganic nature of the Globigerina than that of analogy 
is forthcoming. It so happens that calcareous skeletons, 
exactly similar to the Globigerina of the chalk, are being 

10 formed, at the present moment, by minute living creatures, 

which flourish in multitudes, literally more numerous than 

the sands of the sea-shore, over a large extent of that part 

of the earth's surface which is covered by the ocean. 

The history of the discovery of these living Globi- 

15 gerince, and of the part which they play in rock building, 
is singular enough. It is a discovery which, like others 
of no less scientific importance, has arisen, incidentally, out 
of work devoted to very different and exceedingly prac- 
tical interests. 

20 When men first took to the sea, they speedily learned 
to look out for shoals and rocks; and the more the 
burthen of their ships increased, the more imperatively 
necessary it became for sailors to ascertain with precision 
the depth of the waters they traversed. Out of this 

25 necessity grew the use of the lead and sounding line ; and, 
ultimately, marine-surveying, which is the recording of 
the form of coasts and of the depth of the sea, as ascer- 
tained by the sounding-lead, upon charts. 

At the same time, it became desirable to ascertain 

30 and to indicate the nature of the sea-bottom, since this 
circumstance greatly affects its goodness as holding ground 
for anchors. Some ingenious tar, whose name deserves 
a better fate than the oblivion into which it has fallen, 
attained this object by "arming" the bottom of the lead 

On a Piece of Chalk 81 

with a lump of grease, to which more or less of the sand 

or mud, or broken shells, as the case might be, adhered, 
and was brought to the surface. But, however well 
adapted such an apparatus might be for rough nautical 
purposes, scientific accuracy could not be expected from 5 
the armed lead, and to remedy its defects (especially 
when applied to sounding in great depths) Lieut. Brooke, 
of the American Navy, some years ago invented a most 
ingenious machine, by which a considerable portion of the 
superficial layer of the sea-bottom can be scooped out and 10 
brought up, from any depth to which the lead descends. 

In 1853, Lieut. Brooke obtained mud from the bottom 
of the North Atlantic, between Newfoundland and the 
Azores, at a depth of more than 10,000 feet, or two 
miles, by the help of this sounding apparatus. The 15 
specimens were sent for examination to Ehrenberg of 
Berlin, and to Bailey of West Point, and those able micros- 
copists found that this deep-sea mud was almost entirely 
composed of the skeletons of living organisms the greater 
proportion of these being just like the Globigerina already 20 
known to occur in the chalk. 

Thus far, the work had been carried on simply in the 
interests of science, but Lieut. Brooke's method of sound- 
ing acquired a high commercial value, when the enter- 
prise of laying down the telegraph-cable between this 25 
country and the United States was undertaken. For it 
became a matter of immense importance to know, not only 
the depth of the sea over the whole line along which 
the cable was to be laid, but the exact nature of the bottom, 
so as to guard against chances of cutting or fraying the 30 
strands of that costly rope. The Admiralty consequently 
ordered Captain Dayman, an old friend and shipmate of 
mine, to ascertain the depth over the whole line of the cable, 
and to bring back specimens of the bottom. In former 

82 Selections from Huxley 

days, such a command as this might have sounded very 

much like one of the impossible things which the young 
prince in the fairy tales is ordered to do before he can 
obtain the hand of the princess. However, in the months 
5 of June and July 1857, m y friend performed the task 
assigned to him with great expedition and precision, with- 
out, so far as I know, having met with any reward of that 
kind. The specimens of Atlantic mud which he procured 
were sent to me to be examined and reported upon.* 

10 The result of all these operations is, that we know the 
contours and the nature of the surface-soil covered by the 
North Atlantic, for a distance of 1,700 miles from east 
to west, as well as we know that of any part of the dry 

15 It is a prodigious plain one of the widest and most 
even plains in the world. If the sea were drained off, 
you might drive a wagon all the way from Valentia, on 
the west coast of Ireland, to Trinity Bay, in Newfound- 
land. And, except upon one sharp incline about 2OO 

20 miles from Valentia, I am not quite sure that it would 
even be necessary to put the skid on, so gentle are the 
ascents and descents upon that long route. From Valentia 
the road would lie down-hill for about 200 miles to the 
point at which the bottom is now covered by 1,700 

25 fathoms of sea-water. Then would come the central plain, 
more than a thousand miles wide, the inequalities of the 
surface of which would be hardly perceptible, though the 
depth of water upon it now varies from 10,000 to 15,000 

* See Appendix to Captain Dayman's Deep-sea Soundings in 
30 the North Atlantic Ocean, between Ireland and Newfoundland, 
made in H.M.S. " Cyclops." Published by order of the Lords 
Commissioners of the Admiralty, 1858. They have since formed 
the subject of an elaborate Memoir by Messrs. Parker and Jones, 
published in the Philosophical Transactions for 1865. 

On a Piece of Chalk 83 

feet; and there are places in which Mont Blanc might be 
sunk without showing its peak above water. Beyond this, 
the ascent on the American side commences, and gradu- 
ally leads, for about 300 miles, to the Newfoundland shore. 

Almost the whole of the bottom of this central plain 5 
(which extends for many hundred miles in a north and 
south direction) is covered by a fine mud, which, when 
brought to the surface, dries into a grayish-white friable 
substance. You can write with this on a blackboard, if 
you are so inclined; and, to the eye, it is quite like very 10 
soft, grayish chalk. Examined chemically, it proves to 
be composed almost wholly of carbonate of lime; and if 
you make a section of it, in the same way as that of the 
piece of chalk was made, and view it with the microscope, 
it presents innumerable Globigerince embedded in a granu- 15 
lar matrix. 

Thus this deep-sea mud is substantially chalk. I say 
substantially, because there are a good many minor dif- 
ferences; but as these have no bearing on the question 
immediately before us, which is the nature of the Globi- 20 
gerince of the chalk, it is unnecessary to speak of them. 

Globigervue of every size, from the smallest to the 
largest, are associated together in the Atlantic mud, and 
the chambers of many are filled by a soft animal matter. 
This soft substance is, in fact, the remains of the creature 25 
to which the Globigerina shell, .or rather skeleton, owes 
its existence and which is an animal of the simplest 
imaginable description. It is, in fact, a mere particle 
of living jelly, without defined parts of any kind with- 
out a mouth, nerves, muscles, or distinct organs, and only 30 
manifesting its vitality to ordinary observation by thrust- 
ing out and retracting from all parts of its surface, long 
filamentous processes, which serve for arms and legs. 
Yet this amorphous particle, devoid of everything which, 

84 Selections from Huxley 

in the higher animals, we call organs, is capable of feed- 
ing, growing, and multiplying; of separating from the 
ocean the small proportion of carbonate of lime which is 
dissolved in sea-water; and of building up that substance 
5 into a skeleton for itself, according to a pattern which 
can be imitated by no other known agency. 

The notion that animals can live and flourish in the 
sea, at the vast depths from which apparently living 
Globtgeritue have been brought up, does not agree very 

10 well with our usual conceptions respecting the conditions 
of animal life; and it is not so absolutely impossible as 
it might at first sight appear to be, that the Globigeriiue 
of the Atlantic sea-bottom do not live and die where they 
are found. 

15 As I have mentioned, the soundings from the great 
Atlantic plain are almost entirely made up of Globi- 
gerinez, with the granules which have been mentioned, 
and some few other calcareous shells; but a small per- 
centage of the chalky mud perhaps at most some five 

20 per cent, of it is of a different nature, and consists of 
shells and skeletons composed of silex, or pure flint. These 
silicious bodies belong partly to the lowly vegetable or- 
ganisms which are called Diatomacea, and partly to the 
minute, and extremely simple, animals, termed Radiolaria. 

25 It is quite certain that these creatures do not live at the 
bottom of the ocean, but at its surface where they may 
be obtained in prodigious numbers by the use of a properly 
constructed net. Hence it follows that these silicious 
organisms, though they are not heavier than the lightest 

30 dust, must have fallen, in some cases through fifteen thou- 
sand feet of water, before they reached their final resting- 
place on the ocean floor. And, considering how large a 
surface these bodies expose in proportion to their weight, it 
is probable that they occupy a great length of time 

On a Piece of Chalk 85 

in making their burial journey from the surface of the 
Atlantic to the bottom. 

But if the Radiolaria and Diatoms are thus rained 
upon the bottom of the sea, from the superficial layer 
of its waters in which they pass their lives, it is ob- 5 
viously possible that the Globigerina may be similarly 
derived; and if they were so, it would be much more 
easy to understand how they obtain their supply of food 
than it is at present. Nevertheless, the positive and 
negative evidence all points the other way. The skeletons 10 
of the full-grown, deep-sea Globigennte are so remarkably 
solid and heavy in proportion to their surface as to seem 
little fitted for floating; and, as a matter of fact, they 
are not to be found along with the Diatoms and 
Radiolaria, in the uppermost stratum of the open ocean. 15 

It has been observed, again, that the abundance of 
Globigerinte , in proportion to other organisms, of like 
kind, increases with the depth of the sea; and that 
deep-water Globigerina are larger than those which live 
in shallower parts of the sea; and such facts negative 20 
the supposition that these organisms have been swept by 
currents from the shallows into the deeps of the Atlantic. 

It therefore seems to be hardly doubtful that these 
wonderful creatures live and die at the depths in which 
they are found.* 25 

However, the important points for us are, that the 
living Globigerirue are exclusively marine animals, the 
skeletons of which abound at the bottom of deep seas; 

* During the cruise of H.M.S. Bulldog, commanded by Sir 
Leopold M'Clintock, in 1860, living star-fish were brought up, 30 
clinging to the lowest part of the sounding-line, from a depth of 
1,260 fathoms, midway between Cape Farewell, in Greenland, 
and the Rockall banks. Dr. Wallich ascertained that the sea- 
bottom at this point consisted of the ordinary Globigerina ooze, 

86 Selections from Huxley 

and that there is n6t a shadow of reason for believing 
that the habits of the Globigetina of the chalk differed 
from those of the existing species. But if this be true, 
there is no escaping the conclusion that the chalk itself 
5 is the dried mud of an ancient deep sea. 

In working over the soundings collected by Captain 
Dayman, I was surprised to find that many of what 
I have called the " granules " of that mud, were not, as 
one might have been tempted to think at first, the mere 

10 powder and waste of Globigerince , but that they had a 
definite form and size. I termed these bodies " coc eo- 
liths," and doubted their organic nature. Dr. Wallich 
verified my observation, and added the interesting dis- 
covery that, not unfrequently, bodies similar to these 

15 " coccoliths " were aggregated together into spheroids, 

which he termed " coccospheres." So far as we know, 

these bodies, the nature of which is extremely puzzling 

and problematical, were peculiar to the Atlantic soundings. 

But, a few years ago, Mr. Sorby, in making a careful 

20 examination of the chalk by means of thin sections and 
otherwise, observed, as Ehrenberg had done before him, 
that much of its granular basis possesses a definite form. 
Comparing these formed particles with those in the 
Atlantic soundings, he found the two to be identical ; and 

25 thus proved that the chalk, like the soundings, contains 
these mysterious coccoliths and coccospheres. Here was 
a further and a most interesting confirmation, from in- 

and that the stomachs of the star-fishes were full of Globi- 
gennce. This discovery removes all objections to the existence 
30 of living GlobigeriiKe at great depths, which are based upon the 
supposed difficulty of maintaining animal life under such con- 
ditions; and it throws the burden of proof upon those who object 
to the supposition that the Globigenna live and die where they 
are found. 

On a Piece of Chalk 87 

ternal evidence, of the essential identity of the chalk 
with modern deep-sea mud. Globigervue, coccoliths, and 
coccospheres are found as the chief constituents of both, 
and testify to the general similarity of the conditions 
under which both have been formed.* 5 

The evidence furnished by the hewing, facing, and super- 
position of the stones of the pyramids, that these structures 
were built by men, has no greater weight than the evi- 
dence that the chalk was built by Globigenna; ; and the 
belief that those ancient pyramid-builders were terrestrial 10 
and air-breathing creatures like themselves, is not better 
based than the conviction that the chalk-makers lived in 
the sea. 

But as our belief in the building of the pyramids by 
men is not only grounded on the internal evidence afforded 15 
by these structures, but gathers strength from multi- 
tudinous collateral proofs, and is clinched by the total 
absence of any reason for a contrary belief; so the 
evidence drawn from the Globeriginte that the chalk is 
an ancient sea-bottom, is fortified by innumerable inde- 20 
pendent lines of evidence; and our belief in the truth 
of the conclusion to which all positive testimony tends, 
receives the like negative justification from the fact that 
no other hypothesis has a shadow of foundation. 

It may be worth while briefly to consider a few of 25 
these collateral proofs that the chalk was deposited at 
the bottom of the sea. 

The great mass of the chalk is composed, as we have 
seen, of the skeletons of Globigerints, and other simple 

* I have recently traced out the development of the " cocco- 30 
liths " from a diameter of ^ fa Q th of an inch up to their largest 
size (which is about ^ fa flth), and no longer doubt that they 
are produced by independent organisms, which, like the Globi- 
gennte, live and die at the bottom of the sea. 

88 Selections from Huxley 

organisms, imbedded in granular matter. Here and there, 
however, this hardened mud of the ancient sea reveals the 
remains of higher animals which have lived and died, 
and left their hard parts in the mud, just as the oysters 

5 die and leave their shells behind them, in the mud of the 
present seas. 

There are, at the present day, certain groups of animals 
which are never found in fresh waters, being unable to 
live anywhere but in the sea. Such are the corals; those 

10 corallines which are called Polyzoa; those creatures which 
fabricate the lamp-shells, and are called Brachiopoda; the 
pearly Nautilus, and all animals allied to it; and all the 
forms of sea-urchins and star-fishes. 

Not only are all these creatures confined to salt water 

15 at the present day ; but, so far as our records of the past 
go, the conditions of their existence have been the same: 
hence, their occurrence in any deposit is as strong evi- 
dence as can be obtained, that that deposit was formed in 
the sea. Now the remains of animals of all the kinds 

20 which have been enumerated, occur in the chalk, in greater 
or less abundance; while not one of those forms of shell- 
fish which are characteristic of fresh water has yet been 
observed in it. 

When we consider that the remains of more than three 

25 thousand distinct species of aquatic animals have been 
discovered among the fossils of the chalk, that the great 
majority of them are of such forms as are now met with 
only in the sea, and that there is no reason to believe 
that any one of them inhabited fresh water the collateral 

30 evidence that the chalk represents an ancient sea-bottom 
acquires as great force as the proof derived from the 
nature of the chalk itself. I think you will now allow 
that I did not overstate my case when I asserted that 
we have as strong grounds for believing that all the vast 

On a Piece of Chalk 89 

area of dry land, at present occupied by the chalk, was 
once at the bottom of the sea, as we have for any matter 
of history whatever; while there is no justification for 
any other belief. 

No less certain it is that the time during which the 5 
countries we now call south-east England, France, Ger- 
many, Poland, Russia, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, were more or 
less completely covered by a deep sea, was of considerable 

We have already seen that the chalk is, in places, 10 
more than a thousand feet thick. I think you will agree 
with me, that it must have taken some time for the skele- 
tons of animalcules of a hundredth of an inch in diameter 
to heap up such a mass as that. I have said that through- 
out the thickness of the chalk the remains of other ani- 15 
mals are scattered. These remains are often in the most 
exquisite state of preservation. The valves of the shell- 
fishes are commonly adherent; the long spines of some of 
the sea-urchins, which would be detached by the smallest 
jar, often remain in their places. In a word, it is certain 20 
that these animals have lived and died when the place 
which they now occupy was the surface of as much of the 
chalk as had then been deposited; and that each has been 
covered up by the layer of Globigerina mud, upon which 
the creatures imbedded a little higher up have, in like 25 
manner, lived and died. But some of these remains prove 
the existence of reptiles of vast size in the chalk sea. 
These lived their time, and had their ancestors and de- 
scendants, which assuredly implies time, reptiles being of 
slow growth. 30 

There is more curious evidence, again, that the process 
of covering up, or, in other words, the deposit of Globi- 
gerina skeletons, did not go on very fast. It is demon- 
strable that an animal of the cretaceous sea might die, 

90 Selections from Huxley 

that its skeleton might lie uncovered upon the sea-bottom 
long enough to lose all its outward coverings and append- 
ages by putrefaction; and that, after this had happened, 
another animal might attach itself to the dead and naked 
5 skeleton, might grow to maturity, and might itself die 
before the calcareous mud had buried the whole. 

Cases of this kind are admirably described by Sir 
Charles Lyell. He speaks of the frequency with which 
geologists find in the chalk a fossilized sea-urchin, to 

10 which is attached the lower valve of a Crania. This 
is a kind of shell-fish, with a shell composed of two 
pieces, of which, as in the oyster, one is fixed and the 
other free. 

" The upper valve is almost invariably wanting, though 

15 occasionally found in a perfect state of preservation in 
the white chalk at some distance. In this case, we see 
clearly that the sea-urchin first lived from youth to age, 
then died and lost its spines, which were carried away. 
Then the young Crania adhered to the bared shell, grew 

20 and perished in its turn ; after which, the upper valve was 
separated from the lower, before the Echinus became 
enveloped in chalky mud." * 

A specimen in the Museum of Practical Geology, in 
London, still further prolongs the period which must have 

25 elapsed between the death of the sea-urchin, and its burial 
by the Globigerina. For the outward face of the valve 
of a Crania, which is attached to a sea-urchin (Micraster), 
is itself overrun by an incrusting coralline, which spreads 
thence over more or less of the surface of the sea-urchin. 

30 It follows that, after the upper valve of the Crania fell 
off, the surface of the attached valve must have remained 
exposed long enough to allow of the growth of the 

* Elements of Geology, by Sir Charles Lyell, Bart, F.R.S., p. 23. 

On a Piece of Chalk 91 

whole coralline, since corallines do not live imbedded in 

The progress of knowledge may, one day, enable us 
to deduce from such facts as these the maximum rate 
at which the chalk can have accumulated, and thus to 5 
arrive at the minimum duration of the chalk period. 
Suppose that the valve of the Crania upon which a 
coralline has fixed itself in the way just described, is so 
attached to the sea-urchin that no part of it is more than 
an inch above the face upon which the sea-urchin rests. 10 
Then, as the coralline could not have fixed itself, if the 
Crania had been covered up with chalk mud, and could 
not have lived had itself been so covered, it follows, 
that an inch of chalk mud could not have accumulated 
within the time between the death and decay of the soft 15 
parts of the sea-urchin and the growth of the coralline to 
the full size which it has attained. If the decay of the 
soft parts of the sea-urchin; the attachment, growth to 
maturity, and decay of the Crania; and the subsequent 
attachment and growth of the coralline, took a year 20 
(which is a low estimate enough), the accumulation of 
the inch of chalk must have taken more than a year: 
and the deposit of a thousand feet of chalk must, 
consequently, have taken more than twelve thousand 
years. 25 

The foundation of all this calculation is, of course, a 
knowledge of the length of time the Crania and the 
coralline needed to attain their full size; and, on this 
head, precise knowledge is at present wanting. But 
there are circumstances which tend to show, that nothing 30 
like an inch of chalk has accumulated during the life of 
a Crania; and, on any probable estimate of the length 
of that life, the chalk period must have had a much 
longer duration than that thus roughly assigned to it. 

92 Selections from Huxley 

Thus, not only is it certain that the chalk is the mud of 
an ancient sea-bottom; but it is no less certain, that the 
chalk sea existed during an extremely long period, though 
we may not be prepared to give a precise estimate of the 
5 length of that period in years. The relative duration is 
clear, though the absolute duration may not be definable. 
The attempt to affix any precise date to the period at 
which the chalk sea began, or ended, its existence, is 
baffled by difficulties of the same kind. But the rela- 

10 tive age of the cretaceous epoch may be determined with 
as great ease and certainty as the long duration of that 

You will have heard of the interesting discoveries re- 
cently made, in various parts of Western Europe, of flint 

15 implements, obviously worked into shape by human hands, 
under circumstances which show conclusively that man is 
a very ancient denizen of these regions. 

It has been proved that the old populations of Europe, 
whose existence has been revealed to us in this way, con- 

20 sisted of savages, such as the Esquimaux are now; that, 
in the country which is now France, they hunted the 
reindeer, and were familiar with the ways of the mam- 
moth and the bison. The physical geography of France 
was in those days different from what it is now the river 

25 Somme, for instance, having cut its bed a hundred feet 
deeper between that time and this; and, it is probable, 
that the climate was more like that of Canada or Siberia, 
than that of Western Europe. 

The existence of these people is forgotten even in the 

30 traditions of the oldest historical nations. The name and 
fame of them had utterly vanished until a few years 
back; and the amount of physical change which has been 
effected since their day, renders it more than probable 
that, venerable as are some of the historical nations, the 

On a Piece -of Chalk 93 

workers of the chipped flints of Hoxne or of Amiens are 
to them, as they are to us, in point of antiquity. 

But, if we assign to these hoar relics of long-vanished 
generations of men the greatest age that can possibly be 
claimed for them, they are not older than the drift, or 5 
boulder clay, which, in comparison with the chalk, is 
but a very juvenile deposit. You need go no further 
that your own sea-board for evidence of this fact. At 
one of the most charming spots on the coast of Norfolk, 
Cromer, you will see the boulder clay forming a vast 10 
mass, which lies upon the chalk, and must consequently 
have come into existence after it. Huge boulders of 
chalk are, in fact, included in the clay, and have evi- 
dently been brought to the position they now occupy, 
by the same agency as that which has planted blocks of 15 
syenite from Norway side by side with them. 

The chalk, then, Is certainly older than the boulder 
clay. If you ask how much, I will again take you no 
further than the same spot upon your own coasts for 
evidence. I have spoken of the boulder clay and drift 20 
as resting upon the chalk. That is not strictly true. 
Interposed between the chalk and the drift is a compara- 
tively insignificant layer, containing vegetable matter. 
But that layer tells a wonderful history. It is full of 
stumps of trees standing as they grew. Fir-trees are 25 
there with their cones, and hazel-bushes with their nuts; 
there stand the stools of oak and yew trees, beeches and 
alders. Hence this stratum is appropriately called the 
" forest-bed." 

It is obvious that the chalk must have been upheaved 30 
and converted into dry land, before the timber trees 
could grow upon it. As the bolls of some of these trees 
are from two to three feet in diameter, it is no less clear 
that the dry land thus formed remained in the same 

94 Selections from Huxley 

condition for long ages. And not only do the remains 
of stately oaks and well-grown firs testify to the duration 
of this condition of things, but additional evidence to 
the same effect is afforded by the abundant remains of 
5 elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and other great 
wild beasts, which it has yielded to the zealous search of 
such men as the Rev. Mr. Gunn. 

When you look at such a collection as he has formed, 
and bethink you that these elephantine bones did veritably 

10 carry their owners about, and these great grinders crunch, 
in the dark woods of which the forest-bed is now the 
only trace, it is impossible not to feel that they are as 
good evidence of the lapse of time as the annual rings 
of the tree-stumps. 

15 Thus there is a writing upon the wall of cliffs at 
Cromer, and whoso runs may read it. It tells us, with 
an authority which cannot be impeached, that the ancient 
sea-bed of the chalk sea was raised up, and remained dry 
land, until it was covered with forest, stocked with the 

20 great game whose spoils have rejoiced your geologists. 
How long it remained in that condition cannot be said; 
but " the whirligig of time brought its revenges " in those 
days as in these. That dry land, with the bones and 
teeth of generations of long-lived elephants, hidden away 

25 among the gnarled roots and dry leaves of its ancient trees, 
sank gradually to the bottom of the icy sea, which covered 
it w r ith huge masses of drift and boulder clay. Sea- 
beasts, such as the walrus, now restricted to the extreme 
north, paddled about where birds had twittered among 

30 the topmost twigs of the fir-trees. How long this state 
of things endured we know not, but at length it came to 
an end. The upheaved glacial mud hardened into the soil 
of modern Norfolk. Forests grew once more, the wolf 
and the beaver replaced the reindeer and the elephant; 

On a Piece of Chalk 95 

and at length what we call the history of England 

Thus you have, within the limits of your own county, 
proof that the chalk can justly claim a very much greater 
antiquity than even the oldest physical traces of mankind. 5 
But we may go further and demonstrate, by evidence 
of the same authority as that which testifies to the 
existence of the father of men, that the chalk is vastly 
older than Adam himself. 

The Book of Genesis informs us that Adam, immedi- 10 
ately upon his creation, and before the appearance of 
Eve, was placed in the Garden of Eden. The problem 
of the geographical position of Eden has greatly vexed the 
spirits of the learned in such matters, but there is one 
point respecting which, so far as I know, no commentator 15 
has ever raised a doubt. This is, that of the four rivers 
which are said to run out of it, Euphrates and Hiddekel 
are identical with the rivers now known by the names of 
Euphrates and Tigris. 

But the whole country in which these mighty rivers 20 
take their origin, and through which they run, is composed 
of rocks which are either of the same age as the chalk, or 
of later date. So that the chalk must not only have been 
formed, but, after its formation, the time required for 
the deposit of these later rocks, and for their upheaval 25 
into dry land, must have elapsed, before the smallest 
brook which feeds the swift stream of " the great river, 
the river of Babylon," began to flow. 

Thus, evidence which cannot be rebutted, and which 
need not be strengthened, though if time permitted I 30 
might indefinitely increase its quantity, compels you to 
believe that the earth, from the time of the chalk to the 
present day, has been the theater of a series of changes as 

96 Selections from Huxley 

vast in their amount, as they were slow in their progress. 
The area on which we stand has been first sea and then 
land, for at least four alternations; and has remained in 
each of these conditions for a period of great length. 
5 Nor have these wonderful metamorphoses of sea into 
land, and of land into sea, been confined to one corner 
of England. During the chalk period, or "cretaceous 
epoch," not one of the present great physical features of 
the globe was in existence. Our great mountain ranges, 

10 Pyrenees, Alps, Himalayas, Andes, have all been up- 
heaved since the chalk was deposited, and the cretaceous 
sea flowed over the sites of Sinai and Ararat. 

All this is certain, because rocks of cretaceous, or still 
later, date have shared in the elevatory movements which 

15 gave rise to these mountain chains; and may be found 
perched up, in some cases, many thousand feet high upon 
their flanks. And evidence of equal cogency demonstrates 
that, though, in Norfolk, the forest-bed rests directly upon 
the chalk, yet it does so, not because the period at which 

20 the forest grew immediately followed that at which the 
chalk was formed, but because an immense lapse of time, 
represented elsewhere by thousands of feet of rock, is not 
indicated at Cromer. 

I must ask you to believe that there is no less con- 

25 elusive proof that a still more prolonged succession of 
similar changes occurred, before the chalk was deposited. 
Nor have we any reason to think that the first term in 
the series of these changes is known. The oldest sea- 
beds preserved to us are sands, and mud, and pebbles, 

30 the wear and tear of rocks which were formed in still 
older oceans. 

But, great as is the magnitude of these physical changes 
of the world, they have been accompanied by a no less 
striking series of modifications in its living inhabitants. 

On a Piece of Chalk 97 

All the great classes of animals, beasts of the field, 
fowls of the air, creeping things, and things which dwell 
in the waters, flourished upon the globe long ages before 
the chalk was deposited. Very few, however, if any, of 
these ancient forms of animal life were identical with 5 
those which now live. Certainly not one of the higher 
animals was of the same species as any of those now in 
existence. The beasts of the field, in the days before 
the chalk, were not our beasts of the field, nor the fowls 
of the air such as those which the eye of men has seen 10 
flying, unless his antiquity dates infinitely further back 
than we at present surmise. If we could be carried 
back into those times, we should be as one suddenly set 
down in Australia before it was colonized. We should 
see mammals, birds, reptiles, fishes, insects, snails, and 15 
the like, clearly recognizable as such, and yet not one of 
them would be just the same as those with which we are 
familiar, and many would be extremely different. 

From that time to the present, the population of the 
world has undergone slow and gradual, but incessant, 20 
changes. There has been no grand catastrophe no de- 
stroyer has swept away the forms of life of one period, 
and replaced them by a totally new creation; but one 
species has vanished and another has taken its place; 
creatures of one type of structure have diminished, those 25 
of another have increased, as time has passed on. And 
thus, while the differences between the living creatures 
of the time before the chalk and those of the present day 
appear startling, if placed side by side, we are led from 
one to the other by the most gradual progress, if we follow 30 
the course of Nature through the whole series of those 
relics of her operations which she has left behind. 

And it is by the population of the chalk sea that the 
ancient and the modern inhabitants of the world are 

98 Selections from Huxley 

most completely connected. The groups which are dying 
out flourish, side by side, with the groups which are now 
the dominant forms of life. 

Thus the chalk contains remains of those strange 
5 flying and swimming reptiles, the pterodactyl, the ich- 
thyosaurus, and the plesiosaurus, which are found in no 
later deposits, but abounded in preceding ages. The 
chambered shells called ammonites and belemnites, which 
are so characteristic of the period preceding the cretaceous, 

10 in like manner die with it. 

But, amongst these fading remainders of a previous 
state of things, are some very modern forms of life, 
looking like Yankee peddlers among a tribe of Red In- 
dians. Crocodiles of modern type appear; bony fishes, 

15 many of them very similar to existing species, almost 
supplant the forms of fish which predominate in more 
ancient seas; and many kinds of living shell-fish first 
become known to us in the chalk. The vegetation ac- 
quires a modern aspect. A few living animals are not even 

20 distinguishable as species from those which existed at that 
remote epoch. The Globigerina of the present day, for 
example, is not different specifically from that of the 
chalk; and the same may be said of many other Fora- 
minifera. I think it probable that critical and unpreju- 

25 diced examination will show that more than one species 
of much higher animals have had a similar longevity; 
but the only example which I can at present give con- 
fidently is the snake's-head lamp-shell (Terebratulina 
caput serpentis) , which lives in our English seas and 

30 abounded (as Terebratulina striata of authors) in the 

The longest line of human ancestry must hide its dimin- 
ished head before the pedigree of this insignificant shell- 
fish. We Englishmen are proud to have an ancestor who 

On a Piece of Chalk 99 

was present at the Battle of Hastings. The ancestors of 
Terebratulina caput serpentis may have been present at 
a battle of Ichthyosauria in that part of the sea which, 
when the chalk was forming, flowed over the site of 
Hastings. While all around has changed, this Terebratu- 5 
Una has peacefully propagated its species from generation 
to generation, and stands to this day, as a living testimony 
to the continuity of the present with the past history 
of the globe. 

Up to this moment I have stated, so far as I know, 10 
nothing but well-authenticated facts, and the immediate 
conclusions which they force upon the mind. 

But the mind is so constituted that it does not will- 
ingly rest in facts and immediate causes, but seeks always 
after a knowledge of the remoter links in the chain of 15 

Taking the many changes of any given spot of the 
earth's surface, from sea to land and from land to sea, as 
an established fact, we cannot refrain from asking our- 
selves how these changes have occurred. And when we 20 
have explained them as they must be explained by the 
alternate slow movements of elevation and depression 
which have affected the crust of the earth, we go still 
further back, and ask, Why these movements? 

I am not certain that any one can give you a satis- 25 
factory answer to that question. Assuredly I cannot. 
All that can be said, for certain, is, that such movements 
are part of the ordinary course of nature, inasmuch as 
they are going on at the present time. Direct proof 
may be given, that some parts of the land of the northern 30 
hemisphere are at this moment insensibly rising and others 
insensibly sinking; and there is indirect, but perfectly 
satisfactory, proof, that an enormous area now covered 

ioo Selections from Huxley 

by the Pacific has been deepened thousands of feet, since 
the present inhabitants of that sea came into existence. 

Thus there is not a shadow of a reason for believing 
that the physical changes .of the globe, in past times, 
5 have been effected by other than natural causes. 

Is there any more reason for believing that the con- 
comitant modifications in the forms of the living inhabi- 
tants of the globe have been brought about in other ways? 
Before attempting to answer this question, let us try 

10 to form a distinct mental picture of what has happened, 
in some special case. 

The crocodiles are animals which, as a group, have a 
very vast antiquity. They abounded ages before the 
chalk was deposited ; they throng the rivers in warm 

15 climates, at the present day. There is a difference in 
the form of the joints of the backbone, and in some 
minor particulars, between the crocodiles of the present 
epoch and those which lived before the chalk; but, in 
the cretaceous epoch, as I have already mentioned, the 

20 crocodiles had assumed the modern type of structure. 
Notwithstanding this, the crocodiles of the chalk are not 
identically the same as those which lived in the times 
called "older tertiary," which succeeded the cretaceous 
epoch; and the crocodiles of the older tertiaries are not 

25 identical with those of the newer tertiaries, nor are these 
identical with existing forms. I leave open the question 
whether particular species may have lived on from epoch 
to epoch. But each epoch has had its peculiar crocodiles; 
though all, since the chalk, have belonged to the modern 

30 type, and differ simply in their proportions, and in such 
structural particulars as are discernible only to trained 

How is the existence of this long succession of dif- 
ferent species of crocodiles to be accounted for? 

On a Piece of Chalk 101 

Only two suppositions seem to be open to us Either 
each species of crocodile has been specially created, or it 
has arisen out of some pre-existing form by the opera- 
tion of natural causes. 

Choose your hypothesis; I have chosen mine. I can 5 
find no warranty for believing in the distinct creation of 
a score of successive species of crocodiles in the course of 
countless ages of time. Science gives no countenance 
to such a wild fancy; nor can even the perverse ingenuity 
of a commentator pretend to discover this sense, in the 10 
simple words in which the writer of Genesis records 
the proceedings of the fifth and sixth days of the 

On the other hand, I see no good reason for doubting 
the necessary alternative, that all these varied species 15 
have been evolved from pre-existing crocodilian forms, 
by the operation of causes as completely a part of the 
common order of nature, as those which have effected 
the changes of the inorganic world. 

Few will venture to affirm that the reasoning which 20 
applies to crocodiles loses its force among other animals, 
or among plants. If one series of species has come into 
existence by the operation of natural causes, it seems 
folly to deny that all may have arisen in the same way. 

A small beginning has led us to a great ending. If I 25 
were to put the bit of chalk with which we started 
into the hot but obscure flame of burning hydrogen, it 
would presently shine like the sun. It seems to me that 
this physical metamorphosis is no false image of what 
has been the result of our subjecting it to a jet of fervent, 30 
though nowise brilliant, thought to-night. It has become 
luminous, and its clear rays, penetrating the abyss of the 
remote past, have brought within our ken some stages 

IO2 Selections from Huxley 

of the evolution of the earth. And in the shifting " with- 
out haste, but without rest " of the land and sea, as in the 
endless variation of the forms assumed by living beings, 
we have observed nothing but the natural product of the 
5 forces originally possessed by the substance of the universe. 



WHEN a man is honored by such a request as that 
which reached me from the authorities of your institution 
some time ago, I think the first thing that occurs to him 
is that which occurred to those who were bidden to the 
feast in the Gospel to begin to make an excuse; and 5 
probably all the excuses suggested on that famous occasion 
crop up in his mind one after the other, including his 
" having married a wife," as reasons for not doing what 
he is asked to do. But, in my own case, and on this par- 
ticular occasion, there were other difficulties of a sort 10 
peculiar to the time, and more or less personal to myself; 
because I felt that, if I came amongst you, I should be 
expected, and, indeed, morally compelled, to speak upon 
the subject of Scientific Education. And then there arose 
in my mind the recollection of a fact, which probably no 15 
one here but myself remembers; namely, that some four- 
teen years ago I was the guest of a citizen of yours, who 
bears the honored name of Rathbone, at a very charming 
and pleasant dinner given by the Philomathic Society; and 
I there and then, and in this very city, made a speech upon 20 
the topic of Scientific Education. Under these circum- 
stances, you see, one runs two dangers the first, of repeat- 
ing one's self, although I may fairly hope that everybody 
has forgotten the fact I have just now mentioned, except 


IO4 Selections from Huxley 

myself; and the second, and even greater difficulty, is the 
danger of saying something different from what one said 
before, because then, however forgotten your previous 
speech may be, somebody finds out its existence, and there 

5 goes on that process so hateful to members of Parliament, 
which may be denoted by the term " Hansardization." 
Under these circumstances, I came to the conclusion that 
the best thing I could do was to take the bull by the horns, 
and to " Hansardize " myself to put before you, in the 

10 briefest possible way, the three or four propositions which 
I endeavored to support on the occasion of the speech to 
which I have referred; and then to ask myself, supposing 
you were asking me, whether I had anything to retract, or 
to modify, in them, in virtue of the increased experience, 

15 and, let us charitably hope, the increased wisdom of an 
added fourteen years. 

Now, the points to which I directed particular attention 
on that occasion were these: in the first place, that in- 
struction in physical science supplies information of a char- 

20 acter of especial value, both in a practical and a speculative 
point of view information which cannot be obtained 
otherwise; and, in the second place, that, as educational 
discipline, it supplies, in a better form than any other 
study can supply, exercise in a special form of logic, and a 

25 peculiar method of testing the validity of our processes of 
inquiry. I said further, that, even at that time, a great 
and increasing attention was being paid to physical science 
in our schools and colleges, and that, most assuredly, such 
attention must go on growing and increasing, until educa- 

30 tion in these matters occupied a very much larger share 
of the time which is given to teaching and training, than 
had been the case heretofore. And I threw all the strength 
of argumentation of which I was possessed into the sup- 
port of these propositions. But I venture to remind you, 

Science and Art 105 

also, of some other words I used at that time, and which 
I ask permission to read to you. They were these : " There 
are other forms of culture besides physical science, and I 
should be profoundly sorry to see the fact forgotten, or 
even to observe a tendency to starve or cripple literary or 5 
aesthetic culture for the sake of science. Such a narrow 
view of the nature of education has nothing to do with 
my firm conclusion that a complete and thorough scientific 
culture ought to be introduced into all schools." 

I say I desire, in commenting upon these various points, 10 
and judging them as fairly as I can by the light of in- 
creased experience, to particularly emphasize this last, be- 
cause I am told, although I assuredly do not know it of 
my own knowledge though I think if the fact were so 
I ought to know it, being tolerably well acquainted with 15 
that which goes on in the scientific world, and which has 
gone on .there for the last thirty years that there is a 
kind of sect, or horde, of scientific Goths and Vandals, 
who think it would be proper and desirable to sweep 
away all other forms of culture and instruction, except 20 
those in physical science, and to make them the universal 
and exclusive, or, at any rate, the dominant training of 
the human mind of the future generation. This is not 
my view I do not believe that it is anybody's view but 
it is attributed to those who, like myself, advocate scientific 25 
education. I therefore dwell strongly upon the point, and 
I beg you to believe that the words I have just now read 
were by no means intended by me as a sop to the Cerberus 
of culture. I have not been in the habit of offering sops 
to any kind of Cerberus ; but it was an expression of pro- 30 
found conviction on my own part a conviction forced 
upon me not only by my mental constitution, but by the 
lessons of what is now becoming a somewhat long experi- 
ence of varied conditions of life. 

io6 Selections from Huxley 

I am not about to trouble you with my autobiography; 
the omens are hardly favorable, at present, for work of 
that kind. But I should like if I may do so without ap- 
pearing, what I earnestly desire not to be, egotistical I 
5 should like to make it clear to you, that such notions as 
these, which are sometimes attributed to me, are, as I have 
said, inconsistent with my mental constitution, and still 
more inconsistent with the upshot of the teaching of my 
experience. For I can certainly claim for myself that sort 

10 of mental temperament which can say that nothing human 
comes amiss to it. I have never yet met with any branch 
of human knowledge which I have found unattractive 
which it would not have been pleasant to me to follow, so 
far as I could go; and I have yet to meet with any form 

15 of art in which it has not been possible for me to take as 
acute a pleasure as, I believe, it is possible for men to 

And with respect to the circumstances of life, it so hap- 
pens that it has been my fate to know many lands and 

20 many climates, and to be familiar, by personal experience, 
with almost every form of society, from the uncivilized 
savage of Papua and Australia and the civilized savages 
of the slums and dens of the poverty-stricken parts of great 
cities, to those who, perhaps, are occasionally the some- 

25 what over-civilized members of our upper ten thousand. 
And I have never found, in any of these conditions of life, 
a deficiency of something which was attractive. Savagery 
has its pleasures, I assure you, as well as civilization, 
and I may even venture to confess if you will not let 

30 a whisper of the matter get back to London, where I am 
known I am even fain to confess, that sometimes in the 
din and throng of what is called " a brilliant reception " 
the vision crosses my mind of waking up from the soft 
plank which has afforded me satisfactory sleep during the 

Science and Art 107 

hours of the night, in the bright dawn of a tropical 
morning, when my comrades were yet asleep, when every 
sound was hushed, except the little lap-lap of the ripples 
against the sides of the boat, and the distant twitter of the 
sea-bird on the reef. And when that vision crosses my 5 
mind, I am free to confess I desire to be back in the boat 
again. So that, if I share with those strange persons to 
whose asserted, but still hypothetical existence I have re- 
ferred, the want of appreciation of forms of culture other 
than the pursuit of physical science, all I can say is, that 10 
it is, in spite of my constitution, and in spite of my ex- 
perience, that such should be my fate. 

But now let me turn to another point, or rather to two 
other points, with which I propose to occupy myself. How 
far does the experience of the last fourteen years justify 15 
the estimate which I ventured to put forward of the value 
of scientific culture, and of the share the increasing share 
which it must take in ordinary education? Happily, in 
respect to that matter, you need not rely upon my testi- 
mony. In the last half-dozen numbers of the Journal of 20 
Education, you will find a series of very interesting and 
remarkable papers, by gentlemen who are practically en- 
gaged in the business of education in our great public and 
other schools, telling us what is doing in these schools, 
and what is their experience of the results of scientific 25 
education there, so far as it has gone. I am not going to 
trouble you with an abstract of those papers, which are 
well worth your study in their fullness and completeness, 
but I have copied out one remarkable passage, because it 
seems to me so entirely to bear out what I have formerly 30 
ventured to say about the value of science, both as to its 
subject-matter and as to the discipline which the learning 
of science involves. It is from a paper by Mr. Worthing- 
ton one of the masters at Clifton, the reputation of which 

io8 Selections from Huxley 

school you know well, and at the head of which is an old 
friend of mine, the Rev. Mr. Wilson to whom much 
credit is due for being one of the first, as I can say from 
my own knowledge, to take up this question and work 
5 it into practical shape. What Mr. Worthington says is 
this : 

" It is not easy to exaggerate the importance of the 
information imparted by certain branches of science; it 
modifies the whole criticism of life made in maturer 

10 years. The study has often, on a mass of boys, a certain 
influence which, I think, was hardly anticipated, and to 
which a good deal of value must be attached an influence 
as much moral as intellectual, which is shown in the in- 
creased and increasing respect for precision of statement, 

15 and for that form of veracity which consists in the ac- 
knowledgment of difficulties. It produces a real effect to 
find that Nature cannot be imposed upon, and the atten- 
tion given to experimental lectures, at first superficial and 
curious only, soon becomes minute, serious, and practical." 

20 Ladies and gentlemen, I could not have chosen better 
words to express in fact, I have, in other words, ex- 
pressed the same conviction in former days what the in- 
fluence of scientific teaching, if properly carried out, 
must be. 

25 But now comes the question of properly carrying it out, 
because, when I hear the value of school teaching in 
physical science disputed, my first impulse is to ask the 
disputer, "What have you known about it?" and he 
generally tells me some lamentable case of failure. Then 

30 I ask, " What are the circumstances of the case, and how 
was the teaching carried out ? " I remember, some few 
years ago, hearing of the head master of a large school, 
who had expressed great dissatisfaction with the adoption 

Science and Art 109 

of the teaching of physical science and that after experi- 
ment. But the experiment consisted in this in asking 
one of the junior masters in the school to get up science, 
in order to teach it; and the young gentleman went away 
for a year and got up science and taught it. Well, I have 5 
no doubt that the result was as disappointing as the 
head master said it was, and I have no doubt that it 
ought to have been as disappointing, and far more dis- 
appointing too; for, if this kind of instruction is to be of 
any good at all, if it is not to be less than no good, if it 10 
is to take the place of that which is already of some good, 
then there are several points which must be attended to. 

And the first of these is the proper selection of topics, 
the second is practical teaching, the third is practical teach- 
ers, and the fourth is sufficiency of time. If these four 15 
points are not carefully attended to by anybody who un- 
dertakes the teaching of physical science in schools, my 
advice to him is, to let it alone. I will not dwell at any 
length upon the first point, because there is a general con- 
sensus of opinion as to the nature of the topics which 20 
should be chosen. The second point practical teaching 
is one of great importance, because it requires more capi- 
tal to set it agoing, demands more time, and, last, but by 
no means least, it requires much more personal exertion 
and trouble on the part of those professing to teach, 25 
than is the case with other kinds of instruction. 

When I accepted the invitation to be here this evening, 
your secretary was good enough to send me the addresses 
which have been given by distinguished persons who have 
previously occupied this chair. I don't know whether he 30 
had a malicious desire to alarm me ; but, however that may 
be, I read the addresses, and derived the greatest pleasure 
and profit from some of them, and from none more than 
from the one given by the great historian, Mr. Freeman, 

no Selections from Huxley 

which delighted me most of all; and, if I had not been 
ashamed of plagiarizing, and if I had not been sure of 
being found out, I should have been glad to have copied 
very much of what Mr. Freeman said, simply putting in 
5 the word science for history. There was one notable pas- 
sage: "The difference between good and bad teaching 
mainly consists in this, whether the words used are really 
clothed with a meaning or not." And Mr. Freeman gives 
a remarkable example of this. He says, when a little girl 

10 was asked where Turkey was, she answered that it was in 
the yard with the other fowls, and that showed she had a 
definite idea connected with the word Turkey, and was, so 
far, worthy of praise. I quite agree with that commenda- 
tion; but what a curious thing it is that one should now 

15 find it necessary to urge that this is the be-all and end-all 
of scientific instruction the sine qua non, the absolutely 
necessary condition, and yet that it was insisted upon 
more than two hundred years ago by one of the greatest 
men science ever possessed in this country, William Har- 

20 vey. Harvey wrote, or at least published, only two 
small books, one of which is the well-known treatise on the 
circulation of the blood. The other, the Exercitationes de 
Generatione, is less known, but not less remarkable. And 
not the least valuable part of it is the preface, in which 

25 there occurs this passage : " Those who, reading the words 
of authors, do not form sensible images of the things 
referred to, obtain no true ideas, but conceive false 
imaginations and inane phantasms." You see, William 
Harvey's words are just the same in substance as those 

30 of Mr. Freeman, only they happen to be rather more than 
two centuries older. So that what I am now saying has 
its application elsewhere than in science ; but assuredly in 
science the condition of knowing, of your own knowledge, 
things which you talk about, is absolutely imperative. 

Science and Art in 

I remember, in my youth, there were detestable books 
which ought to have been burned by the hands of the com- 
mon hangman, for they contained questions and answers to 
be learned by heart, of this sort, "What is a horse? 
The horse is termed Equus caballus; belongs to the 5 
class Mammalia; order, Pachydermata; family, Solidun- 
gula." Was any human being wiser for learning that 
magic formula? Was he not more foolish, inasmuch as 
he was deluded into taking words for knowledge? It is 
that kind of teaching that one wants to get rid of, and 10 
banished out of science. Make it as little as you like, but, 
unless that which is taught is based on actual observation 
and familiarity with facts, it is better left alone. 

There are a great many people who imagine that ele- 
mentary teaching might be properly carried out by teachers 15 
provided with only elementary knowledge. Let me assure 
you that that is the profoundest mistake in the world. 
There is nothing so difficult to do as to write a good ele- 
mentary book, and there is nobody so hard to teach 
properly and well as people who know nothing about a 20 
subject, and I will tell you why. If I address an audi- 
ence of persons who are occupied in the same line of work 
as myself, I can assume that they know a vast deal, and 
that they can find out the blunders I make. If they don't 
it is their fault and not mine; but when I appear before 25 
a body of people who know nothing about the matter, who 
take for gospel whatever I say, surely it becomes needful 
that I consider what I say, make sure that it will bear 
examination, and that I do not impose upon the credulity 
of those who have faith in me. In the second place, it 30 
involves that difficult process of knowing what you know 
so well that you can talk about it as you can talk about 
your ordinary business. A man can always talk about his 
own business. He can always make it plain; but, if his 

112 Selections from Huxley 

knowledge is hearsay, he is afraid to go beyond what he 
has recollected, and put it before those that are ignorant 
in such a shape that they shall comprehend it. That is 
why, to be a good elementary teacher, to teach the ele- 

5 ments of any subject, requires most careful consideration, 
if you are a master of the subject; and, if you are not a 
master of it, it is needful you should familiarize yourself 
with so much as you are called upon to teach soak your- 
self in it, so to speak until you know it as part of your 

10 daily life and daily knowledge, and then you will be able 
to teach anybody. That is what I mean by practical teach- 
ers, and, although the deficiency of such teachers is being 
remedied to a large extent, I think it is one which has 
long existed, and which has existed from no fault of those 

15 who undertook to teach, but because, until the last score of 
years, it absolutely was not possible for any one in a great 
many branches of science, whatever his desire might be, to 
get instruction which would enable him to be a good 
teacher of elementary things. All that is being rapidly 

20 altered, and I hope it will soon become a thing of the 

The last point I have referred to is the question of the 
sufficiency of time. And here comes the rub. The teach- 
ing of science needs time, as any other subject; but it 

25 needs more time proportionally than other subjects, for the 
amount of work obviously done, if the teaching is to be, as 
I have said, practical. Work done in a laboratory involves 
a good deal of expenditure of time without always an ob- 
vious result, because we do not see anything of that quiet 

30 process of soaking the facts into the mind, which takes 
place through the organs of the senses. On this ground 
there must be ample time given to science teaching. 
What that amount of time should be is a point which I 
need not discuss now; in fact, it is a point which cannot 

Science and Art 113 

be settled until one has made up one's mind about various 
other questions. 

All, then, that I have to ask for, on behalf of the scien- 
tific people, if I may venture to speak for more than 
myself, is that you should put scientific teaching into what 5 
statesmen call the condition of " the most favored nation " ; 
that is to say, that it shall have as large a share of the 
time given to education as any other principal subject. 
You may say that that is a very vague statement, because 
the value of the allotment of time, under those circum- 10 
stances, depends upon the number of principal subjects. 
It is AT the time, and an unknown quantity of principal 
subjects dividing that, and science taking shares with the 
rest. That shows that we cannot deal with this question 
fully until we have made up our minds as to what the 15 
principal subjects of education ought to be. 

I know quite well that launching myself into this dis- 
cussion is a very dangerous operation; that it is a very 
large subject, and one which is difficult to deal with, how- 
ever much I may trespass upon your patience in the time 20 
allotted to me. But the discussion is so fundamental, 
it is so completely impossible to make up one's mind on 
these matters until one has settled the question, that I 
will even venture to make the experiment. A great 
lawyer-statesman and philosopher of a former age I mean 25 
Francis Bacon said that truth came out of error much 
more rapidly than it came out of confusion. There is a 
wonderful truth in that saying. Next to being right in 
this world, the best of all things is to be clearly and 
definitely wrong, because you will come out somewhere. 30 
If you go buzzing about between right and wrong, vibrat- 
ing and fluctuating, you come out nowhere ; but if you are 
absolutely and thoroughly and persistently wrong, you 
must, some of these days, have the extreme good fortune 

ii4 Selections from Huxley 

of knocking your head against a fact, and that sets you all 

straight again. So I will not trouble myself as to 

whether I may be right or wrong in what I am about to 

, say, but at any rate I hope to be clear and definite ; 

5 and then you will be able to judge for yourselves whether, 

in following out the train of thought I have to introduce, 

you knock your heads against facts or not. 

I take it that the whole object of education is, in the 
first place, to train the faculties of the young in such a 

10 manner as to give their possessors the best chance of being 
happy and useful in their generation; and, in the second 
place, to furnish them with the most important portions of 
that immense capitalized experience of the human race 
which we call knowledge of various kinds. I am using the 

15 term knowledge in its widest possible sense ; and the ques- 
tion is, what subjects to select by training and discipline, 
in which the object I have just defined may be best 

I must call your attention further to this fact, that all 

20 the subjects of our thoughts all feelings and propositions 
(leaving aside our sensations as the mere materials and 
occasions of thinking and feeling), all our mental furniture 
may be classified under one of two heads as either 
within the province of the intellect, something that can be 

25 put into propositions and affirmed or denied ; or as within 
the province of feeling, or that which, before the name was 
defiled, was called the aesthetic side of our nature, and 
which can neither be proved nor disproved, but only felt 
and known. 

30 According to the classification which I have put before 
you, then, the subjects of all knowledge are divisible into 
the two groups, matters of science and matters of art ; for 
all things with which the reasoning faculty alone is occu- 
pied, come under the province of science ; and in the broad- 

Science and Art 115 

est sense, and not in the narrow and technical sense in 
which we are now accustomed to use the word art, all 
things feelable, all things which stir our emotions, come 
under the term of art, in the sense of the subject-matter 
of the aesthetic faculty. So that we are shut up to this 5 
that the business of education is, in the first place, to pro- 
vide the young with the means and the habit of observa- 
tion; and, secondly, to supply the subject-matter of 
knowledge either in the shape of science or of art, or of 
both combined. 10 

Now, it is a very remarkable fact but it is true of most 
things in this world that there is hardly anything one- 
sided, or of one nature; and it is not immediately obvious 
what of the things that interest us may be regarded as pure 
science, and what may be regarded as pure art. It may be 15 
that there are some peculiarly constituted persons who, 
before they have advanced far into the depths of geometry, 
find artistic beauty about it; but, taking the generality of 
mankind, I think it may be said that, when they begin to 
learn mathematics, their whole souls are absorbed in trac- 20 
ing the connection between the premises and the conclusion, 
and that to them geometry is pure science. So I think it 
may be said that mechanics and osteology are pure science. 
On the other hand, melody in music is pure art. You can- 
not reason about it; there is no proposition involved in it. 25 
So, again, in the pictorial art, an arabesque, or a " har- 
mony in gray," touches none but the aesthetic faculty. But 
a great mathematician, and even many persons who are not 
great mathematicians, will tell you that they derive im- 
mense pleasure from geometrical reasonings. Everybody 30 
knows mathematicians speak of solutions and problems as 
" elegant," and they tell you that a certain mass of mystic 
symbols is " beautiful, quite lovely." Well, you do not 
see it. They do see it, because the intellectual process, the 

1 1 6 Selections from Huxley 

process of comprehending the reasons symbolized by these 
figures and these signs, confers upon them a sort of pleas- 
ure, such as an artist has in visual symmetry. Take a 
science of which I may speak with more confidence, and 

5 which is the most attractive of those I am concerned with. 
It is what we call morphology, which consists in tracing 
out the unity in variety of the infinitely diversified struc- 
tures of animals and plants. I cannot give you any example 
of a thorough aesthetic pleasure more intensely real than a 

10 pleasure of this kind the pleasure which arises in one's 
mind when a whole mass of different structures run into 
one harmony as the expression of a central law. That is 
where the province of art overlays and embraces the prov- 
ince of intellect. And, if I may venture to express an 

15 opinion on such a subject, the great majority of forms of 
art are not in a sense what I just now defined them to be 
pure art; but they derive much of their quality from 
simultaneous and even unconscious excitement of the in- 

20 When I was a boy, I was very fond of music, and I am 
so now; and it so happened that I had the opportunity of 
hearing much good music. Among other things, I had 
abundant opportunities of hearing that great old master, 
Sebastian Bach. I remember perfectly well though I 

25 knew nothing about music then, and, I may add, know 
nothing whatever about it now the intense satisfaction 
and delight which I had in listening, by the hour together, 
to Bach's fugues. It is a pleasure which remains with me, 
I am glad to think ; but, of late years, I have tried to find 

30 out the why and wherefore, and it has often occurred to me 
that the pleasure derived from musical compositions of this 
kind is essentially of the same nature as that which is de- 
rived from pursuits which are commonly regarded as purely 
intellectual. I mean, that the source of pleasure is exactly 

Science and Art 117 

the same as in most of my problems in morphology that 
you have the theme in one of the old master's works fol- 
lowed out in all its endless variations, always appearing 
and always reminding you of unity in variety. So in paint- 
ing; what is called "truth to nature" is the intellectual 5 
element coming in, and truth to nature depends entirely 
upon the intellectual culture of the person to whom art 
is addressed. If you are in Australia, you may get credit 
for being a good artist I mean among the natives if you 
draw a kangaroo after a fashion. But, among men of 10 
higher civilization, the intellectual knowledge we possess 
brings its criticism into our appreciation of works of art, 
and we are obliged to satisfy it, as well as the mere sense 
of beauty in color and in outline. And so, the higher the 
culture and information of those whom art addresses, the 15 
more exact and precise must be what we call its " truth to 

If we turn to literature, the same thing is true, and you 
find works of literature which may be said to be pure art. 
A little song of Shakespeare or of Goethe is pure art ; it is 20 
exquisitely beautiful, although its intellectual content may 
be nothing. A series of pictures is made to pass before 
your mind by the meaning of words, and the effect is a 
melody of ideas. Nevertheless, the great mass of the 
literature we esteem is valued, not merely because of hav- 25 
ing artistic form, but because of its -intellectual content; 
and the value is the higher the more precise, distinct, and 
true is that intellectual content. And, if you will let me 
for a moment speak of the very highest forms of literature, 
do we not regard them as highest simply because the 30 
more we know the truer they seem, and the more com- 
petent we are to appreciate beauty the more beautiful 
they are? No man ever understands Shakespeare until he 
is old, though the youngest may admire him, the reason 

Ii8 Selections from Huxley 

being that he satisfies the artistic instinct of the youngest 
and harmonizes with the ripest and richest experience of 
the oldest. 

I have said this much to draw your attention to what, 

5 in my mind, lies at the root of all this matter, and at the 
understanding of one another by the men of science on the 
one hand, and the men of literature, and history, and art, 
on the other. It is not a question whether one order of 
study or another should predominate. It is a question of 

10 what topics of education you shall select which will com- 
bine all the needful elements in such due proportion as to 
give the greatest amount of food, support, and encourage- 
ment to those faculties which enable us to appreciate truth, 
and to profit by those sources of innocent happiness which 

15 are open to us, and at the same time, to avoid that which is 
bad, and coarse, and ugly, and keep clear of the multitude 
of pitfalls and dangers which beset those who break 
through the natural or moral laws. 

I address myself, in this spirit, to the consideration of 

20 the question of the value of purely literary education. Is 
it good and sufficient, or is it insufficient and bad ? Well, 
here I venture to say that there are literary educations and 
literary educations. If I am to understand by that term 
the education that was current in the great majority of 

25 middle-class schools, and upper schools too, in this country 
when I was a boy, and which consisted absolutely and 
almost entirely in keeping boys for eight or ten years at 
learning the rules of Latin and Greek grammar, constru- 
ing certain Latin and Greek authors, and possibly making 

30 verses which, had they been English verses, would have 
been condemned as abominable doggerel if that is what 
you mean by literary education, then I say it is scandal- 
ously insufficient and almost worthless. My reason for 
saying so is not from the point of view of science at all, 

Science and Art 119 

but from the point of view of literature. I say the thing 
professes to be literary education that is not a literary edu- 
cation at all. It was not literature at all that was taught, 
but science in a very bad form. It is quite obvious that 
grammar is science and not literature. The analysis of a 5 
text by the help of the rules of grammar is just as much 
a scientific operation as the analysis of a chemical com- 
pound by the help of the rules of chemical analysis. There 
is nothing that appeals to the aesthetic faculty in that 
operation; and I ask multitudes of men of my own age, 10 
who went through this process, whether they ever had a 
conception of art or literature until they obtained it for 
themselves after leaving school? Then you may say, "If 
that is so, if the education was scientific, why cannot you 
be satisfied with it?" I say, because although it is a 15 
scientific training, it is of the most inadequate and inap- 
propriate kind. If there is any good at all in scientific 
education it is that men should be trained, as I said before, 
to know things for themselves at first hand, and that 
they should understand every step of the reason of that 20 
which they do. 

I desire to speak with the utmost respect of that science 
philology of which grammar is a part and parcel; yet 
everybody knows that grammar, as it is usually learned at 
school, affords no scientific training. It is taught just as 25 
you would teach the rules of chess or draughts. On the 
other hand, if I am to understand by a literary education 
the study of the literatures of either ancient or modern 
nations but especially those of antiquity, and especially 
that of ancient Greece; if this literature is studied, not 30 
merely from the point of view of philological science, and 
its practical application to the interpretation of texts, but 
as an exemplification of and commentary upon the prin- 
ciples of art ; if you look upon the literature of a people as 

I2O Selections from Huxley 

a chapter in the development of the human mind, if you 
work out this in a broad spirit, and with such collateral 
references to morals and politics, and physical geography, 
and the like as are needful to make you comprehend what 
5 the meaning of ancient literature and civilization is 
then, assuredly, it affords a splendid and noble education. 
But I still think it is susceptible of improvement, and that 
no man will ever comprehend the real secret of the differ- 
ence between the ancient world and our present time, 

10 unless he has learned to see the difference which the late 
development of physical science has made between the 
thought of this day and the thought of that, and he will 
never see that difference, unless he has some practical in- 
sight into some branches of physical science ; and you must 

15 remember that a literary education such as that which I 
have just referred to, is out of the reach of those whose 
school life is cut short at sixteen or seventeen. 

But, you will say, all this is fault-finding; let us hear 
what you have in the way of positive suggestion. Then I 

20 am bound to tell you that, if I could make a clean sweep 
of everything I am very glad I cannot because I might, 
and probably should, make mistakes but if I could make 
a clean sweep of everything and start afresh, I should, in 
the first place, secure that training of the young in read- 

25 ing and writing, and in the habit of attention and ob- 
servation, both to that which is told them, and that which 
they see, which everybody agrees to. But in addition to 
that I should make it absolutely necessary for everybody, 
for a longer or shorter period, to learn to draw. Now, 

30 you may say, there are some people who cannot draw, 
however much they may be taught. I deny that in toto, 
because I never yet met with anybody who could not 
learn to write. Writing is a form of drawing; therefore 
if you give the same attention and trouble to drawing 

Science and Art 121 

as you do to writing, depend upon it, there is nobody who 
cannot be made to draw more or less well. Do not mis- 
apprehend me. I do not say for one moment you would 
make an artistic draughtsman. Artists are not made ; they 
grow. You may improve the natural faculty in that 5 
direction, but you cannot make it ; but you can teach simple 
drawing, and you will find it an implement of learning of 
extreme value. I do not think its value can be exag- 
gerated, because it gives you the means of training the 
young in attention and accuracy, which are the two things 10 
in which all mankind are more deficient than in any 
other mental quality whatever. The whole of my life has 
been spent in trying to give my proper attention to things 
and to be accurate, and I have not succeeded as well as I 
could wish; and other people, I am afraid, are not much 15 
more fortunate. You cannot begin this habit too early, 
and I consider there is nothing of so great a value as 
the habit of drawing, to secure those two desirable ends. 

Then we come to the subject-matter, whether scientific 
or aesthetic, of education, and I should naturally have no 20 
question at all about teaching the elements of physical 
science of the kind I have sketched, in a practical manner; 
but among scientific topics, using the word scientific in the 
broadest sense, I would also include the elements of the 
theory of morals and of that of political and social life, 25 
which, strangely enough, it never seems to occur to any- 
body to teach a child. I would have the history of our own 
country, and of all the influences which have been brought 
to bear upon it, with incidental geography, not as a mere 
chronicle of reigns and battles, but as a chapter in the 30 
development of the race, and the history of civilization. 

Then with respect to aesthetic knowledge and discipline, 
we have happily in the English language one of the most 
magnificent storehouses of artistic beauty and of models of 

122 Selections from Huxley 

literary excellence which exists in the world at the present 
time. I have said before, and I repeat it here, that if a 
man cannot get literary culture of the highest kind out of 
his Bible, and Chaucer, and Shakespeare, and Milton, and 
5 Hobbes, and Bishop Berkeley, to mention only a few of 
our illustrious writers I say, if he cannot get it out of 
those writers, he cannot get it out of anything; and I 
would assuredly devote a very large portion of the time 
of every English child to the careful study of the models 

10 of English writing of such varied and wonderful kind as 
we possess, and, what is still more important and still 
more neglected, the habit of using that language with 
precision, with force, and with art. I fancy we are almost 
the only nation in the world who seem to think that com- 

15 position comes by nature. The French attend to their 
own language, the Germans study theirs; but Englishmen 
do not seem to think it is worth their while. Nor would 
I fail to include, in the course of study I am sketching, 
translations of all the best works of antiquity, or of the 

20 modern world. It is a very desirable thing to read Homer 
in Greek; but if you don't happen to know Greek, the 
next best thing we can do is to read as good a transla- 
tion of it as we have recently been furnished with in 
prose. You won't get all you would get from the original, 

25 but you may get a great deal ; and to refuse to know this 
great deal because you cannot get all, seems to be as 
sensible as for a hungry man to refuse bread because 
he cannot get partridge. Finally, I would add instruc- 
tion in either music or painting, or, if the child should 

30 be so unhappy, as sometimes happens, as to have no 
faculty for either of those, and no possibility of doing 
anything in any artistic sense with them, then I would see 
what could be done with literature alone; but I would 
provide, in the fullest sense, for the development of the 

Science and Art 123 

aesthetic side of the mind. In my judgment, those are 
all the essentials of education for an English child. With 
that outfit, such as it might be made in the time given to 
education which is within the reach of nine-tenths of the 
population with that outfit, an Englishman, within the 5 
limits of English life, is fitted to go anywhere, to occupy 
the highest positions, to fill the highest offices of the State, 
and to become distinguished in practical pursuits, in sci- 
ence, or in art. For, if he have the opportunity to learn 
all those things, and have his mind disciplined in the 10 
various directions the teaching of those topics would have 
necessitated, then, assuredly, he will be able to pick up, on 
his road through life, all the rest of the intellectual bag- 
gage he wants. 

If the educational time at our disposition were sufficient 15 
there are one or two things I would add to those I have 
just now called the essentials; and perhaps you will be 
surprised to hear, though I hope you will not, that I 
should add, not more science, but one, or if possible, two 
languages. The knowledge of some other language than 20 
one's own is, in fact, of singular intellectual value. Many 
of the faults and mistakes of the ancient philosophers are 
traceable to the fact that they knew no language but their 
own, and were often led into confusing the symbol with 
the thought which it embodied. I think it is Locke who 25 
says that one-half of the mistakes of philosophers have 
arisen from questions about words; and one of the safest 
ways of delivering yourself from the bondage of words 
is, to know how ideas look in words to which you are 
not accustomed. That is one reason for the study of 30 
language; another reason is, that it opens new fields in 
art and in science. Another is the practical value of such 
knowledge; and yet another is this, that if your languages 
are properly chosen, from the time of learning the addi- 

124 Selections from Huxley 

tional languages you will know your own language better 
than ever you did. So, I say, if the time given to educa- 
tion permits, add Latin and German. Latin, because it is 
the key to nearly one-half of English and to all the Ro- 
5 mance languages; and German, because it is the key to 
almost all the remainder of English, and helps you to 
understand a race from whom most of us have sprung, 
and who have a character and a literature of a fateful 
force in the history of the world, such as probably has 

10 been allotted to those of no other people, except the Jews, 
the Greeks, and ourselves. Beyond these, the essential and 
the eminently desirable elements of all education, let each 
man take up his special line the historian devote himself 
to his history, the man of science to his science, the 

15 man of letters to his culture of that kind, and the artist to 
his special pursuit. 

Bacon has prefaced some of his works with no more than 
this: Franciscus Bacon sic cogitavit; let sic cogitavi be the 
epilogue to what I have ventured to address to you 
20 to-night. 



(Heavy numerals refer to page; light ones to line) 

(See Introduction pp. xix-xx) 

3, 6. Bishop Butler. Joseph Butler (1692-1752), Bishop 
of Durham, was a writer of great power and influence. His 
best known work, Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, 
to the Constitution and Course of Nature, is frequently mentioned 
by Huxley. 

3, 10. Auckland: ten miles south of Durham. 

3, 17. Pre-Boswellian epoch: the age in which biography 
was less personal and prying than it came to be after 1791, 
when James Boswell (1740-1795) published his Life of Samuel 

3, 22. " Bene qui latuit, bene vixit." From Ovid : " Who- 
ever has lived unobserved has lived well." 

4, 15. Hyde Park Corner: one of the nine gateways to 
Hyde Park, two and a quarter miles south by west of St. 
Paul's Cathedral. 

4, 30-31. Mellifluous eloquence: eloquence that flows or 
drops from the lips like honey. It is said that when Plato was 
in his cradle a swarm of bees lighted on his mouth. The same 
story is told of St. Ambrose and St. Dominick. 

5, 7-8. That particular Apostle: Thomas, the doubting 
Apostle, who demanded proof before he would believe. See 
John xx, 2$. 

6, 9. Prince George of Cambridge: a grandson of George 
III and Commander-in-chief of the British army. 

6, 15-16. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903): one of the greatest 
philosophers of the nineteenth century. He was an intimate 
friend of Huxley, to whom he used to send proofsheets of his 
biological works for criticism. He applied Darwin's theory of 
evolution to the economic and institutional life of man. 

7, 10. Sydney: capital of New South Wales, Australia, 
visited by Huxley on the voyage of the Rattlesnake. 


128 Notes and Comment 

7, 23. In partibus infidelium: "among the unfaithful." 

8, 9. The disagreeables: a humorous equivalent for the 
disagreeable things. Compare goods, sweets, bitters. 

8, 24. " Sweet south upon a bed of violets." See Twelfth 
Night, I, i, '5. 

8, 29. "Lehrjahre": "school-years," or "apprenticeship." 

9, 18-19. My first scientific paper. The title was On a 
Hitherto Undescribed Structure in the Human Hair Sheath. 
See Introduction ix. 

9, 34. Strong: presumptuous. 

10, 22. Haslar Hospital. This famous retreat for invalid 
sailors is in Gosport, opposite Portsmouth, England. 

12, 22. Middies: abbreviation for midshipmen. 

12, 24. Suites a Buffon: "sequels to Buffon," or "continua- 
tions of Buffon's works," a series of scientific monographs pub- 
lished in Paris from 1834 to *%57- George Louis Leclerc Buf- 
fon (1707-1788) was the most celebrated French naturalist of 
the eighteenth century. He originated the phrars, " Le style 
est de Phomme," which is usually mistranslated "The style is 
the man." 

12, 28. Noah. See Genesis <viii, 7-8. 

12, 32. Royal Society: incorporated by Charles II in 1662. 
Huxley became a member in 1851. See the interesting account 
of the origin and work of this society in the lecture On the 
Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge, pages 30-34. 

13, 15. Pere Goriot: a famous novel by Balzac (1799-1850). 
13, 1 6. "A nous deux": "between us two"; that is, Lon- 
don and I must fight it out. 

13, 19. Professor Tyndall. John Tyndall (1820-1893), 
professor of natural history at the Royal Institution and Fellow 
of the Royal Society, was an intimate friend of Huxley and 
famous for his researches in heat, light, sound, and electricity. 
See Huxley's letters to him, pages 22-24 and page 26. 

13, 28. Edward Forbes. His death in 1853 deprived Hux- 
ley of a devoted friend who had already served him in many 
ways. See Introduction ix-x. Huxley said of him, in 1851: 
" He is one of the few men I have ever met to whom I can 
feel obliged without losing a particle of independence or self- 

14, 9-10. On a Friday evening at the Royal Institution, 
in 1852. The Royal Institution was incorporated by George 

Notes and Comment 129 

III, January 13, 1800. Its purpose was to facilitate, by lec- 
tures and experiments, the application of science to the com- 
mon needs of daily life. Huxley's experience on this eventful 
Friday evening is thus told to his sister (Life and Letters, I, 
106-107) : 

" It was the first lecture I had ever given in my life, and to 
what is considered the best audience in London. As nothing ever 
works up my energies but a high flight, I had chosen a very diffi- 
cult abstract point, in my view of which I stand almost alone. 
When I took a glimpse into the theater and saw it full of faces, 
I did feel most amazingly uncomfortable. I can now quite 
understand what it is to be going to be hanged, and nothing 
but the necessity of the case prevented me from running away. 

" However, when the hour struck, in I marched, and began to 
deliver my discourse. For ten minutes I did not quite know 
where I was, but by degrees I got used to it, and gradually 
gained perfect command of myself and of my subject. I be- 
lieve I contrived to interest my audience, and upon the whole 
I think I may say that this essay was successful. 

" Thank Heaven I can say so, for though it is no great matter 
succeeding, failing would have been a bitter annoyance to me. 
It has put me comfortably at my ease with regard to all 
future lecturings. After the Royal Institution there is no 
audience I shall ever fear." 

14, lo-n. Malgre moi: "in spite of myself." 

15, 7. Popularization of science. Huxley's influence in 
popularizing Darwin's work was recognized by Lord Kelvin, 
when he presented Huxley with the Darwin Medal in 1894, in 
these words: 

" To the world at large, perhaps, Mr. Huxley's share in 
molding the thesis of Natural Selection is less well known than 
is his bold, unwearied exposition and defense of it after it 
had been made public. And, indeed, a speculative trifler, revel- 
ing in the problems of the ' might have been,' would find a 
congenial theme in the inquiry how soon what we now call 
' Darwinism ' would have met with the acceptance with which 
it has met, and gained the power which it has gained, had it 
not been for the brilliant advocacy with which in its early days it 
was expounded to all classes of men. 

"That advocacy had one striking mark: while it made or 
strove to make clear how deep the new view went down, and 

130 Notes and Comment 

how far it reached, it never shrank from trying to make equally 
clear the limit beyond which it could not go." Life and Letters, 
I, 224. 

15, 10. Ecclesiastical spirit. "The antagonism of science," 
says Huxley, " is not to religion but to the heathen survivals 
and the bad philosophy under which religion herself is often 
well-nigh crushed." 

15, 28. New Reformation. Mrs. Humphry Ward gave this 
name to the new scientific movement. Huxley, writing to his 
wife in 1873, says: "The part I have to play is not to found a 
new school of thought or to reconcile the antagonisms of the 
old schools. We are in the midst of a gigantic movement 
greater than that which preceded and produced the Reforma- 
tion, and really only the continuation of that movement. . . . 
I have no more doubt that free thought will win in the long 
run than I have that I sit here writing to you." 

(See Introduction, pp. xx-xxi) 

16, i. Miss Heathorn: Miss Henrietta Anne Heathorn, whom 
Huxley married July i, 1855. See Introduction xi. 

16, 5. Naughten: a fusion of naught and nothing. 

17, 3. Sardonic grin. Homer was the first to speak of 
sardonic laughter, meaning laughter that concealed some evil 
design. Sardonic still has this sense, but Huxley means by it 
not malignant but strained, forced, unnatural, not proceeding 
from real gaiety. 

18, 14. Duke of Wellington. Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852) 
became successively baron, viscount, earl, marquis, and finally 
Duke of Wellington. After his victory over Napoleon at 
Waterloo, he was considered the greatest soldier, as Nelson 
was the greatest sailor, that England had produced. In the ode 
to which Huxley alludes in this letter, Tennyson calls Well- 

" Our greatest yet with least pretense, 
Great in council and great in war, 
Foremost captain of his time, 
Rich in saving common-sense, 
And, as the greatest only are, 
In his simplicity sublime." 

Notes and Comment 131 

Though he died on September 14, he was not buried until Novem- 
ber 18. 

18, 17. The Cathedral: St. Paul's. Here lie also Nelson, 
J. M. W. Turner, Benjamin West, Lord Collingwood, and 
Sir Joshua Reynolds. The building was completed in 1710. 
In general impressiveness St. Paul's ranks next to St. Peter's 
in Rome. 

18, 23-24. Marquis of Anglesey. Henry William Paget 
(1768-1854), first Marquis of Anglesey, commanded the British 
cavalry at Waterloo. 

19, i. Sir Charles Napier. Charles James Napier (1782- 
1853) fought in Wellington's Peninsular campaigns, but was not 
present at the battle of Waterloo. He completed the conquest 
of Scinde, a province of western India, by the victory of 
Hyderabad, March 24, 1843. 

19, 13. Tennyson's ode. The Ode on the Death of the Duke 
of Wellington was published as a pamphlet of sixteen pages 
on November 18, 1852, the day of the Duke's funeral. It was 
revised by Tennyson in 1853, and again in 1855. The poem 
has grown steadily in public favor since 1855. 

20, 7. Esau. See Genesis xx<v, 29-34.. Huxley's writings 
abound in biblical allusions. See Introduction xvii-xviii. 

20, 32. Holmwood: the home of W. M. Fanning in Sydney, 
Australia, where Huxley met Miss Heathorn, Mrs. Tanning's 

21, 8. Charles Darwin. Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), 
the most famous of English naturalists, was the founder of the 
biological theory of evolution. His greatest work, On the 
Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preser- 
vation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, was pub- 
lished in 1859. The book marked a turning-point in Huxley's 
life as well as in the history of biological science. See Introduc- 
tion xiii, and note on line 7, page 15. As long as Darwin lived 
he and Huxley were devoted friends and regular correspond- 

21, 13. Von Bar's essays. Karl Ernst von Bar (1792-1876) 
was a celebrated Russian naturalist, noted especially for his 
researches in embryology. Huxley ranked him with Darwin, 
Buffon, and Lamarck. Cuvier he placed " in a somewhat lower 

21, 20. Chapter IX. The chapter headings in The Origin 

132 Notes and Comment 

of Species, to which Huxley refers, are as follows: I. Varia- 
tion under Domestication, II. Variation under Nature, III. The 
Struggle for Existence, IV. Operation of Natural Selection, 
IX. The Imperfection of the Geological Record, X. The 
Geological Succession of Organic Beings, XI-XII. Geographical 
Distribution, XIII. Classification, Morphology, Embryology, and 
Rudimentary Organs. 

21, 23. Caveat. Liberally, " let him beware." The mean- 
ing here is a note of 'warning or caution. 

21, 27. Onus probandi: "the burden of proof." 

22, 3. Natura non facit saltum: "Nature never makes a 

22, lo-n. Abuse and misrepresentation. Huxley had to 
bear more of this than Darwin. At the famous Oxford Meeting 
of 1860, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce turned to Huxley and asked, 
" Is it through your grandfather or your grandmother that you 
claim descent from a monkey?" Huxley's retort (as reported 
by the historian, John Richard Green) was, " If there were an 
ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather 
be a man a man of restless and versatile intellect who, not 
content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of activity, 
plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real ac- 
quaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and 
distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue 
by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious preju- 

22, 22. " I think the more." This is the modern form of 
an old proverb found in John Ray's Compleat Collection of 
English Proverbs (1742): "Though he says nothing, he pays 
it with thinking, like the Welshman's jackdaw." In his reply to 
this letter (November 25, 1859) Darwin says: "I should have 
been more than contented with one quarter of what you have 

22, 24. John Tyndall. See note on line 19, page 13. 

22, 26. Messina: a seaport of Sicily, ranking next in com- 
mercial importance to Palermo. 

22, 28. Bence Jones: Huxley's physician. 

22, 30. Ray Lankester: Edwin Ray Lankester, professor of 
comparative anatomy at Oxford since 1890 and one of the 
editors of The Scientific Memoirs of Huxley. See Descriptive 
Bibliography, xxvii. 

Notes and Comment 133 

22, 31. Dohrn himself: a German scientist, founder of the 
Marine Biological Station at Naples. See Introduction xi. 

23, 30. Atrio del Cavallo: a large level tract of land sepa- 
rating Vesuvius from Mt. Somma. 

24, 2. 6lie de Beaumont (1798-1874): a celebrated pro- 
fessor of geology at the College de France. 

24, 4-5. "Laves mousseuses": lavas permeated with air- 
bubbles, frothy, vain, aspiring lavas. In his article On the 
Reception of the Origin of Species (Life and Letters of Charles 
Darivin, by his son, Francis Darwin, in 3 volumes, 3d edition, 
1887, vol. II, p. 187) Huxley says: "In France the influence 
of Elie de Beaumont and of Flourens, the former of whom is 
said to have 'damned himself to everlasting fame' by inventing 
the nickname of la science moussante for Evolutionism . . . 
produced for a long time the effect of a conspiracy of silence." 
Huxley is repaying Elie de Beaumont in his own coin. 

24, 13. Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) : a famous French chemist 
and world benefactor, best known for his researches in bac- 
teria, beer, silkworms, and hydrophobia. The Institute which 
Pasteur established for the treatment of those suffering from 
the bites of rabid animals was founded in Paris, November 14, 
1868. Since then similar institutes have been established through- 
out the world, and the death-rate from hydrophobia has been 
reduced to less than one per cent. 

25, 25. The fanatics of laissez faire: those who advocate 
the let-alone policy. 

25, 29. Prefer that men should suffer than rabbits or 
dogs. Huxley himself did not practise vivisection, though he 
considered it justifiable. See Life and Letters, I, 466. It will be 
noticed that Huxley's English is here defective, rather being 
necessary after prefer or suffer. 

26, 6. Hodeslea. Huxley moved into his new house in 
December, 1890. The origin of the name is given by him in 
a letter of October 15, 1890: "One is obliged to have names 
for houses here. Mine will be ' Hodeslea,' which is as near as 
I can go to ' Hodesleia,' the poetical original shape of my 
very ugly name." 

26, 7. Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892). Huxley and Tenny- 
son met rarely but each admired the other. After a visit from 
Huxley in November, 1871, Tennyson wrote: "Mr. Huxley was 
charming. We had much talk. He was chivalrous, wide, 

134 Notes and Comment 

and earnest, so that one could not but enjoy talking with him. 
There was a discussion on George Eliot's humility. Huxley 
thought her a humble woman, despite a dogmatic manner of 
assertion that had come upon her latterly in her writings." 
Of Tennyson's conversation Huxley said: "Doric beauty is its 
characteristic perfect simplicity, without any ornament or any- 
thing artificial." He spoke also of " the insight into scientific 
method " shown in Tennyson's In Memoriam, and pronounced it 
" equal to that of the greatest experts." 

26, 15-16. Between the darkness before and . . . after: 
between birth and death. 

26, 19. Lucretius (97-55 B.C.). Nothing definite is known 
of the life of Lucretius. His great work On the Nature of 
Things (De Rerum Natura) consists of six books, the philosophy 
of which is that all forms of life are due to the chance com- 
bination of an infinite number of atoms moving in an infinite 
void. His descriptions are marked by wonderful accuracy 
and beauty. Lowell, in his Essay on Chaucer, calls the begin- 
ning of Lucretius's poem " the one sunburst of purely poetic 
inspiration which the Latin language can show." 

(See Introduction xxi-xxii) 

28, 6. The very spot: St. Martin's Hall, in Long Acre 
Street, near Drury Lane, London. Defoe says that the first 
victims were two Frenchmen, who " died of the plague in Long 
Acre, or rather at the upper end of Drury Lane." 

28, 13-14. The History of the Plague Year. Daniel Defoe 
(i66i?-i73i) is best known as the author of Robinson Crusoe 
(1719), but his Journal of the Plague Year (1722) entitled 
History of the Plague in the second edition is equally realistic 
and minute in its details. 

29, 16-17. Of the Republicans, or of the Papists. The 
Republicans, the party of Cromwell and Milton, wished to 
abolish monarchy. The Papists were thought to be plotting for 
the re-establishment of the Catholic faith. 

30, 2. The Rochesters and Sedleys: John Wilmot (1647- 
1680), the second Earl of Rochester, and Sir Charles Sedley 
(1639-1701), noted wits and dramatists in the reign of Charles 

Notes and Comment 135 

30, 6. Laud, or ... Milton. William Laud (1573-1645), 
Archbishop of Canterbury and supporter of Charles I, attempted 
to suppress the spread of Puritanism. He was impeached by 
the Long Parliament and beheaded. John Milton (1608-1674), 
the author of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, was the 
Latin Secretary to Cromwell and the resolute defender of 

30, 28. Copernican hypothesis. Copernicus (1473-1543) 
proved that the earth revolves around the sun, not (as the old 
Ptolemaic theory was) the sun around the earth. 

30, 32. Selenography of the moon. The last three words 
are useless. Selenography means the scientific study of the 

31, 3. Torricellian experiment. Evangelista Torricelli 
(1608-1647), a celebrated Italian physicist and friend of Galileo, 
discovered the principle of the modern barometer. 

31, 10. Galileo . . . and Sir Francis Bacon. Galileo 
Galilei (1564-1642), a noted Italian astronomer, constructed a 
thermometer in 1597 and a telescope in 1609. In 1610 he 
discovered Jupiter's satellites and the spots on the sun. His doc- 
trines were condemned by the Pope and he was compelled to 
abjure the Copernican theory. Lord Bacon (1561-1626), the 
celebrated English essayist, scientist, and philosopher, made 
no important discoveries, but he reformed the method of scien- 
tific investigation. He is, therefore, one of the founders of 
modern science or the " New Philosophy." 

31, 14. Dr. Wallis: John Wallis (1616-1703), an English 
grammarian, mathematician, and theologian. 

31, 17. Dr. Wilkins: John Wilkins (1614-1672), Bishop of 
Chester, advocate of the Copernican theory, and one of the 
founders of the Royal Society. 

31, 22. Charles the Second: King of England from 1660 to 
1685. The following stanza, to which Huxley makes indirect 
reference, is said to have been written by the Earl of Rochester 
(see note on line 2, page 30) on the door of Charles II's 

" Here lies our sovereign lord the king, 

Whose word no man relies on; 
He never says a foolish thing 
Nor never does a wise one." 

31, 27. Duke of Ormond: James Butler (1610-1688), the 

136 Notes and Comment 

first Duke of Ormond, a devoted adherent of Charles II, whom 
he accompanied into exile. 

31, 28-29. Chelsea College. In 1664 the Royal Society peti- 
tioned Charles II " to grant Chelsea College and the lands 
belonging to it to the Royal Society." This was done but the 
college was so out of repair that the Royal Society sold it in 
1682. It was situated about three miles southwest of St. Paul's 
Cathedral on the Thames but is no longer in existence. The 
Society now meets in Burlington House, Piccadilly. 

32, 8. Newton. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was probably 
the greatest mathematician that ever lived. His most famous 
work, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy 
(Philosophies Naturalis Principia Mathematica), the founda- 
tion of modern astronomy, mechanics, and mathematics, was 
accepted by the Royal Society in 1686 and published in the 
summer of the following year. 

32, 10. Philosophical Transactions: one of the regular pub- 
lications of the Royal Society, the other being The Proceedings of 
the Royal Society. The first dates from 1665, the second from 

32, 28. Vesalius and . . . Harvey. Andreas Vesalius 
(1514-1564) was a noted Belgian anatomist, his Seven Books on 
the Human Body being epoch-making for his century. William 
Harvey (1578-1657) was a famous English physiologist, in 
whose Essay on the Motion of the Heart and the Blood (1628) 
the circulation of the blood was first demonstrated. His last 
publication was Essays on Birth (Exercitationes de Generatione, 

32, 29. Grain of mustard seed. See Mattheiu xiii, 31-32, and 
Mark iv, 31-32. 

33, 5. Schoolmen: philosophers of the Middle Ages, many of 
whose speculations were useless and absurd. 

33, ii. "Writ in water." The epitaph on Keats's tomb- 
stone in Rome, composed by himself, is: "Here lies one whose 
name was writ in water." 

33, 13. First President: Lord Brouncker, mentioned below. 
He was the first to hold office after the formal incorporation 
of the Royal Society, July 15, 1662. 

33, 31. Revenant: French for ghost, returning spirit. 

34, 10-11. Mr. Hooke: Robert Hooke (1635-1703), an Eng- 
lish mathematician. 

Notes and Comment 137 

34, 28. A Boyle, an Evelyn, and a Milton. Robert Boyle 
(1627-1691), an English chemist, is best known as the dis- 
coverer of Boyle's law of the elasticity of air and as the founder 
of Boyle's Lectures for the Defense of Christianity. John 
Evelyn (1620-1706) was a secretary of the Royal Society, but 
is remembered chiefly by his letters and diary. For Milton, see 
note on line 6, page 30. 

34, 31. Restoration: the restoration of Charles II to the 
English throne in 1660, after the Commonwealth of Cromwell. 

35, 3. Only. The more logical position would be before 

35, 4-5. Unswept and ungarnished. See Luke xi, 25. 

35, 7-8. Note the studied repetition and parallelism in these 
two lines. See also lines 1-8 on page 46. 

37, n. Blind leaders of the blind. See Matthew xv, 14.. 

37, 25. Aladdin's lamps: the source of illimitable power. 
See Aladdin or the Wonderjul Lamp in the Arabian Nights' 

37, 26-27. Thank God they are better. See Luke xviii, n. 

39, 10. "When in heaven the stars": from Tennyson's 
Specimen of a Translation of the Iliad in Blank Verse (Iliad, 
VIII, 542-561). See note on line 7, page 26. 

40, 30. " Increasing God's honor." In The Advancement 
of Learning Bacon says that knowledge is to be pursued " For 
the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's estate." 

42, 2-3. The discovery of oxygen: by Joseph Priestley 
(1733-1804) in 1774. 

42, 12. Count Rumford. Benjamin Thompson (1753-1814), 
Count Rumford, was an American scientist and political ad- 
venturer who spent most of his active life in England and Ger- 
many. He was a member of the Royal Society and one of the 
founders of the Royal Institution (see note on lines 9-10, page 
14). He left to Harvard University funds for the establish- 
ment of the Rumford Professorship. 

. 43. 3!-32. By worship " for the most part of the silent 
sort." The thought, if not the form, is from Carlyle, who in his 
Heroes and Hero-Worship constantly emphasizes the duty of 
silence in worship and work. 

43, 32. At the altar of the Unknown. See Acts xvii, 23. 
45, 11-12. Skepticism is the highest of duties. This is not 

an attack on religion. " The antagonism between science and 

138 Notes and Comment 

religion appears to me," said Huxley, " to be purely factitious, 
fabricated on the one hand by short-sighted religious people; 
and on the other by equally short-sighted scientific people." See 
also the note on line 10, page 15. In another passage he says: 
" When I say that Descartes consecrated doubt, you must re- 
member that it was that sort of doubt which Goethe has called 
' the active skepticism, whose whole aim is to conquer itself ' ; 
and not that other sort which is born of flippancy and ignorance, 
and whose aim is only to perpetuate itself, as an excuse for 
idleness and indifference." 

(See Introduction xxii-xxiii) 

48, 5. Ichabod. See / Samuel iv, 21. 

48, 10. The people perish for lack of knowledge. Hosea 
i<u, 6: " My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." 

49, 22. Our public schools. These are not to be confounded 
with our American public schools. Huxley had in mind such 
schools as Rugby and Eton. 

49, 29. Senior wranglership, or a double-first. These are 
English academic terms, the first meaning the highest honors 
in mathematics at Cambridge University, the second the high- 
est honors in mathematics and the classical languages at Ox- 
ford University. 

51, i. Raveled skein. To ravel is one of the few verbs in 
English that may mean two contradictory things: to tangle or 
to untangle. Huxley uses it in the first sense. 

51, 18. Gambit: an opening play by which a pawn is sacri- 
ficed to gain a better position. 

52, 10. Retzsch: Friedrich August Moritz Retzsch (1779- 
1857), a German etcher and painter. 

53, 29. Test-Acts. The English Test-Act of 1673, repealed 
in 1828, forbade any one to hold public office who did not 
swear loyalty to the Church of England. 

53> 33- The " Poll ": students who pass (get through) but 
take no honors. The term is in vogue at Cambridge University 
and is derived from the Greek ol Tro\\ol, " the many," " the 

54, i. Plucked: pitched, "flunked," dropped from the roll. 
56, 2. Law of the inverse squares. According to this law 

Notes and Comment 139 

the attraction of two bodies varies inversely as the square of 
the distance. 

56, 7. The hundred: a division of the county, not very dif- 
ferent from our township. 

56, 22. Falstaff s bill. See / Henry IV, II, iv, 550. 

57, 20-21. "Circumbendibus": a humorous formation from 
circum -f- bend with the ending of a Latin ablative plural and 
meaning circumlocution. The word seems to have been coined 
by Dryden in 1681. As here used " a thief with a circum- 
bendibus " is equivalent to " another name for thief." 

60, 8. Euclid. The Elements of Geometry by Euclid (about 
300 B.C.) is still used as a text-book and the name of Euclid 
has become a synonym for geometry. 

60, 31-32. Chaucer, Shakespeare . . . Schiller. Geoffrey 
Chaucer (1340-1400), the first great English poet and the au- 
thor of many books, is best known through The Canterbury 
Tales, the supreme masterpiece of Middle English. William 
Shakespeare (1564-1616) needs no comment. For Milton, see 
note on line 6, page 30. Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire 
(1694-1778), the last being an assumed name of unknown 
origin, was the most versatile, prolific, and influential writer 
that France has produced, the best edition of his works num- 
bering seventy-two volumes. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 
(1749-1832) and Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller 
(1759-1805) are the two greatest names in German literature, 
Goethe being probably the most fruitful thinker of modern 

61, 4. The few righteous. See Genesis xviii, 23-32. 

62, 7-8. Tasmania . . . New South Wales. The first, 
discovered by Tasman in 1642, is an island and British colony 
in Australasia. It was a dependency of New South Wales 
until 1825. The second, named from a fancied resemblance 
to the northern shores of the Bristol Channel, is a British 
colony in Australia. Huxley spent several years in Sydney, 
the capital of this colony. 

62, 17. Croesus: a Lydian king who lived about 550 B.C., 
and whose name has become a synonym for boundless wealth. 

64, 3. A Niebuhr, a Gibbon, or a Grote? Paleontology is 
a branch of biology, both dealing constructively with the former 
life of the globe. In each of these great paleontologists, there- 
fore, Huxley hails a kindred spirit. Barthold Georg Niebuhr 

140 Notes and Comment 

(1776-1831), a German historian, reconstructed our ideas of 
ancient history in his History of Rome. Edward Gibbon 
(1737-1794), the English historian, did an equal service for 
later Roman history in his Decline and Fall of the Roman 
Empire. George Grote (1794-1871), also an Englishman, 
wrote an authoritative History of Greece. Huxley com- 
mended the example of Grote and Faraday in declining all 
titular honors offered them by the government. 

65, 13-14. Cicero, or Horace. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106- 
43 B.C.), the Roman critic, orator, and philosopher, is here 
cited as the exemplar of the purest Latin prose, and Quintus 
Horatius Flaccus (65-8 B.C.) as the poet of the purest lyric 
style in Roman literature. 

65, 14. Sixth form: the senior class in an English public 

65, 15. Terence. Publius Terentius Afer (185-159 B.C.) was 
the master of Latin comedy. 

65, 30. Parnassus: classical studies. Parnassus, a mountain 
ridge in Greece, was the fabled abode of the Muses. 

66, 22. These be your gods. See Exodus xxxii, 4. 

66, 27. This is the stone he offers. See Matthew <vii, g. 

66, 3i.This is an awful subject: perhaps a reminiscence of 
Burke's "Surely it is an awful subject" (beginning of the 
second paragraph of his speech on Conciliation ivith America. 

67, 3. Rector of Lincoln College: Mark Pattison (1813- 
1884), referred to below. 

69, 17-19. Grote . . . Mill . . . Faraday . . . Robert 
Brown . . . Lyell . . . Darwin. For Grote, see note on 
line 3, page 64. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), a celebrated 
English logician and political economist. Michael Faraday 
(1791-1867), an English chemist, famous for his discoveries in 
electricity and magnetism. Robert Brown (1773-1858), an 
English botanist. Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875), an English 
geologist, author of Principles of Geology, Elements of Geol- 
ogy, and The Antiquity of Man. For Darwin, see note on line 
8, page 21. 

70, 34. La carriere ouverte aux talents. " For I take it 
that the real essence of democracy was fairly enough defined 
by the First Napoleon when he said that the French Revolu- 
tion meant ' la carriere ouverte aux talents ' a clear path- 
way for merit of whatever kind" (Lowell's Democracy). 

Notes and Comment 141 

71, x. Bursch: a German student. 

72, 21. " Erdkunde ": " earth-knowledge." 

(See Introduction, pp. xxiii-xxiv) 

[A map should be used in the study of this lecture.] 

74, 17. Albion: literally "white land," so called from the 
chalk cliffs of the southern coast. 

74, 26. Weald. The Weald (pronounced wield and mean- 
ing originally the wilds) is an oval-shaped area bounded by a 
line that begins near the Straits of Dover and passes through 
the counties of Kent, Surrey, Hants, and Sussex, meeting the 
sea again at Beachy Head. 

76, 29-30. Though ignorant of all other history. Could 
not this clause be better placed? Try it after that or man 
or know in line 27. 

77, 31-32. Stalagmites and stalactites. Both are cone- 
like, but the former rise from the floor of the cavern while the 
latter hang from the roof. 

78, 13. Laminated: having lamina, that is, thin plates or 

80, 4. Globigerina. The second g is pronounced as j and 
the accent is on the next to the last syllable, the i having the 
usual English long sound. 

81, 7. Lieut. Brooke: John Mercer Brooke (1826-1906), the 
inventor also of the Brooke gun. 

81, 16. Ehrenberg: Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (1795- 
1876), a German naturalist, noted for his study of minute 
water-plants and animals. 

81, 17. Bailey: Jacob Whitman Bailey (1811-1857), a West 
Point graduate and professor. 

81, 25. Telegraph-cable. Cyrus W. Field (1819-1892), of 
New York, stretched a cable from the American coast to New- 
foundland in 1856. Ten years later he continued it to England. 

81, 32. Captain Dayman: one of the lieutenants of the 
Rattlesnake. See Introduction ix. 

85, 30. Star-fish. Notice that in this note Huxley uses the 
two plurals, star-fish and star-fishes (86, 28), interchangeably. 

142 Notes and Comment 

85, 33. Dr. Wallich: George Charles Wallich (1815-1899), 
an English authority in marine biology. 

86, ii-i2. " Coccoliths ": berry-shaped stones (Kixxos, a berry, 
-}- Xf0os, a stone). 

86, 16. " Coccospheres ": a round mass of coccoliths (KtiKKot, 
a berry, + ff<j>aipa, a sphere). 

86, 19. Mr. Sorby: Henry Clifton Sorby (1826- ), a 
fellow of the Royal Society and later president of Frith Col- 
lege, Sheffield. 

88, 10. Polyzoa: many animals (iroXtfs, many, yov, animal). 
The singular is polyzoon, sometimes polyzoum (Latin). 

88, n. Brachiopoda: arm-footed (ftpaxlw, arm, -\- 7r6vs(iro8-) , 

88, 12. Nautilus: a sailor (murfXcj, poetic form for WI/TIJJ, 
sailor). See Oliver Wendell Holmes's popular poem, The 
Chambered Nautilus. 

go, 8. Lyell. See note on lines 17-19, page 69. 

93, i. Hoxne . . . Amiens. The first is in Suffolk, England, 
the second in northern France. As early as 1800 rude flint 
instruments, belonging to prehistoric man, were unearthed in 
both places. 

94, 7. Rev. Mr. Gunn: Robert Campbell Gunn (1808-1881), 
a noted English naturalist. He emigrated to Tasmania at the 
age of twenty-one and helped to found the Royal Society of 

94, 15. Writing upon the wall. See Daniel <v, 5. 

94, 22. " The whirligig of time." See Twelfth Night, V, i, 


95, 28. " The river of Babylon." This phrase does not 
occur in the Bible; but the Euphrates, on which Babylon was 
situated, is called " the great river " in Genesis xv, 18. 

97, 14. Australia. The zoology of Australia and Tas- 
mania is in many respects different from that of any other 

98, 5-6. Pterodactyl . . . ichthyosaurus . . . plesiosaurus. 
The first means -wing-fingered (irrepbv, wing, -}- SdKTiAos, finger), 
the second fish-lizard (faMs, fish, -\- (raCpos, lizard), the third 
near-lizard (ir\r)fflos, near,-)- <raOpos, lizard). Note that the 
prefix plesio- in scientific terms is exactly analogous to the 
prefix near in such humorous compounds as near-beer, near- 
poetry, etc. 

Notes and Comment 143 

98, 23-24. Foraminifera: hole-bearing organisms (Latin 
foramen (foramin-), a hole, -f- ferre, to bear). 

98, 28. Lamp-shell. These all belong to the family of the 
terebratulida, or bored-through organisms (Latin terebrare, to 

98, 32-33. Diminished head. See Milton's Paradise Lost, 

v> 33-34: 

" At whose sight all the stars 
Hide their diminished heads." 

99, i. Battle of Hastings. In this battle, fought October 
14, 1066, the Normans under William the Conqueror defeated 
the Saxons or English under King Harold. 

100, 23. " Older tertiary." With the coming of life the 
geological record is classified into four divisions: i. The 
Primary or Palaeozoic (ancient life) Period, 2. The Secondary 
or Mesozoic (middle life) Period, 3. The Tertiary or Cainozoic 
(recent life) Period, 4. The Quaternary or Post-Tertiary 


102, 1-2. " Without haste, but without rest." This was 
one of Huxley's favorite quotations from Goethe. See Spriiche 
in Reimen: Zahme Xenien, II. J. S. Blackie translates the 
complete passage as follows: 

"Like the star 
That shines afar, 
Without haste 
And without rest, 

Let each man wheel with steady sway 
Round the task that rules the day, 
And do his best." 

(See Introduction, p. xxiv) 

103, 5. In the Gospel. See Matthew xxii, 2-10. 

104, 6. " Hansardization ": the process of comparing a man's 
past and present records. Luke Hansard (1752-1828) was the 
official printer of the English parliamentary reports. 

105, 12. To particularly emphasize. Note the so-called 
" split infinitive." There are cases where this idiom is justi- 
fied by the demands of euphony or clearness, but this hardly 
seems one of them. 

144 Notes and Comment 

105, 28. Cerberus: the three-headed watch-dog at the en- 
trance to the infernal regions. See Swift's reference in his lines 
On Poetry: 

" To Cerberus they give a sop, 
His triple barking mouth to stop." 

106, 10-11. Nothing human comes amiss to it: a reference 
to the famous saying of Terence: "I am a man, and I con- 
sider nothing human foreign to me" ("Homo sum; humani 
nihil a me alienum puto"). 

107, 34. Clifton: Clifton College, in Gloucestershire, one 
mile west of Bristol. 

109, 34. Mr. Freeman: Edward Augustus Freeman (1823- 
1892), author of the famous History of the Norman Conquest. 

no, 15. The be-all and end-all: the sum total. See Mac- 
beth I, vii, 5. 

no, 19-20. William Harvey. See note on line 28, page 32. 

112, 23. The rub. See Hamlet III, i, 65. 

113, 26. Francis Bacon. See note on line 10, page 31. The 
reference is probably to a sentence in Bacon's Latin essay on 
Promptitude: " He who errs quickly is quick in correcting the 
error" (" Qui cito errat, cito errorem emendat"). 

116, 24. Sebastian Bach: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685- 
1750), a German musician, who shares with Handel the honor 
of being the Shakespeare of the fugue. 

117, 20. Shakespeare . . . Goethe. See note on lines 31- 
32, page 60. 

117, 26. Intellectual content. This is a truth of prime 
importance at all times but especially now when literature is 
popularly regarded as merely a dainty pastime. David Masson 
expresses the same truth as follows: "Every artist is a thinker, 
whether he knows it or not; and ultimately no artist will be 
found greater as an artist than he was as a thinker." 

122, 4. Chaucer and Shakespeare. See note on lines 31- 
32, page 60. 

122, 4. Milton. See note on line 6, page 30. 

122, 5. Hobbes and Bishop Berkeley. Thomas Hobbes 
(1588-1679), an English philosopher, advocated in his Levia- 
than the doctrine that the power of the state over the individual 
is absolute. George Berkeley (1685-1753), an Irishman and 
Bishop of Cloyne, believed that there is no such thing as mat- 
ter but that everything is spirit. Of Berkeley's doctrine of 

Notes and Comment 145 

idealism Huxley wrote: "It is that idealism which declares 
the ultimate fact of all knowledge to be a consciousness, or in 
other words, a mental phenomenon ; and therefore affirms the 
highest of all certainties, and indeed the only absolute cer- 
tainty, to be the existence of mind." 

123, 25. Locke: John Locke (1632-1704), an English philos- 
opher and author of an Essay Concerning the Human Under- 

124, 18. Franciscus Bacon. See note on line 10, page 31. 
The meaning of the sentence is "Thus thought Francis Bacon"; 
sic cogitavi means " thus I thought." 


Before taking up these questions let us read some of the 
things that have been said about Huxley's writings. Do not 
accept blindly the opinions of others but compare your own 
impressions with theirs. If they say something that you had not 
thought of, do not accept it or reject it until you have tested 
it by a more careful reading of Huxley himself. Above all 
do not be satisfied with mere words or phrases. Seek for 
illustrations in Huxley's writings of every point made for or 
against him. Mrs. Huxley, for example, edited a small volume 
of selections from her husband's writings and prefaced it with 
these words : " Some of the passages were picked out for 
their philosophy, some for their moral guidance, some for 
their scientific exposition of natural facts, or for their insight 
into social questions; others for their charms of imagina- 
tion or genial humor, and many not the least for their 
beauty of lucid English writing." Can you illustrate each 
of these points by sentences or paragraphs from the selections 
that you have read? The attempt to do so would greatly in- 
crease your appreciation of the distinctive excellences of Hux- 
ley's writings. 

Huxley's scientific friend, E. Ray Lankester, wrote of him 
as follows: "In Professor Huxley's work . . . we never miss 
his fascinating presence ; now he is gravely shaking his head, 
now compressing the lips with emphasis, and, from time to 
time, with a quiet twinkle of the eye, making unexpected 
apologies, or protesting that he is of a modest and peace- 
loving nature. . . . Everything which has entered the au- 
thor's brain by eye or ear . . . comes out again to us clarified, 
sifted, arranged, and vivified by its passage through the logical 
machine of his strong individuality." Can you find passages 
that help you to visualize Huxley as Lankester has visualized 

A writer in a leading American magazine criticised Huxley's 

Questions and Topics for Study 147 

essays as follows: "In form his essays are often rambling, 
sometimes disconnected, occasionally prolix. He plunges into 
the midst of a subject and, discovering there an almost limit- 
less number of things which are apropos of the last thing he 
said, frequently skips about hither and thither, trusting to good 
luck and his own mother wit to guide him safely to some 
suitable conclusion." From what you have read of Huxley do 
you consider this a just criticism? 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY (pages 3-15) 

Autobiography is a modern form of literature. A study of 
the greatest autobiographies will show that they grew out of 
the desire not so much to perpetuate the names of the writers 
as to be helpful to others. A typical example is Benjamin 
Franklin's Autobiography. Huxley's Autobiography, which 
was written to take the place of a merely formal sketch of 
his life by another, is the shortest autobiography on record 
and is not as intimate a revelation as most autobiographies 

1. How many paragraphs are devoted to merely introductory 
matter? How many to the conclusion? 

2. Name some important events in Huxley's life omitted in 
the Autobiography. 

3. What does Huxley say are the two objects that he has 
" had more or less definitely in view " (page 14) ? Enumerate 
some of his achievements under each of these heads. (See 
Introduction xiii-xix.) 

4. Cite examples of humor in the Autobiography. Of exag- 

5. Explain the hope expressed in the last sentence of the last 

LETTERS (pages 16-27) 

Of all the kinds of discourse letters are the freest and most 
informal. They should not leave the impression that they 
were written with too great pains or with too minute con- 
sideration of words or sentences. They should be fresh, 
unstudied, spontaneous. They should suggest a conversa- 
tion rather than an essay. In fact, the letter is a sort of long- 

148 Questions and Topics for Study 

distance conversation. Letters are interesting also not only 
because they contain autobiographical material but because they 
frequently throw light on the times in which they were 
written. Huxley's letters serve both of these ends. 

To Miss Heathorn (pages 16-18) 

1. Express in your own language how Huxley felt about the 
Royal Medal. 

2. How was it the " turning-point " of his life ? 

To Miss Heathorn (pages 18-19) 

1. Does Huxley attempt to tell what happened at the 
funeral or only what he saw and felt? 

2. Had he been writing an essay instead of a letter, how 
would he have treated the subject? 

3. Read Tennyson's Ode on the Death of the Duke of 
Wellington and pick out some of the passages that you think 
Huxley marked. 

To Miss Heathorn (pages 19-21) 

1. What "three years" does Huxley mean? 

2. What difference between man's love and woman's love 
does Huxley dwell upon in this letter? 

To Charles Darwin (pages 21-22) 

1. Why is 1859 one of the most significant dates in Huxley's 

2. What were the relations between Huxley and Darwin? 

To John Tyndall (pages 22-24) 

1. Which of the first two paragraphs gives you the clearer 
picture of the scenes described? 

2. Reproduce the picture in your own language. 

3. Explain the reference to Elie de Beaumont. 

Questions and Topics for Study 149 

To the Lord Mayor of London (pages 24-26) 

1. Is this a real letter, or is it the outline of the speech that 
Huxley would have delivered if he could have attended the 

2. What two kinds of service had Pasteur rendered? 

To John Tyndall (page 26) 

1. How did the sunshine suggest Tennyson's poems? 

2. Can you name any poem or cite any passages in which 
Tennyson shows his familiarity with science? 

To a Young Man (pages 26-27) 

1. Write the letter that you suppose the young man wrote. 

2. What sentence in Huxley's letter puts drudgery in a new 

3. What does the Scotch proverb mean? 

On the Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge 
(pages 28-46) 

The selections that follow, whether called lay sermons, ad- 
dresses, or lectures, are really essays and were so considered 
by Huxley when he included them in his Collected Essays. 
There are, however, two kinds of essay, the chatty, humor- 
ous, personal essay as written by Addison, Steele, Lamb, and 
Thackeray, and the more carefully constructed and more seri- 
ously expository essay as written by Macaulay, Carlyle, 
Arnold, and Lowell. Huxley's essays belong to the second 
class: they are studied attempts to expound important truths. 
It will be found that each essay presents some central thought 
or thoughts. Each essay, in other words, has unity. It will 
be found also that the structure of each essay is determined 
solely by the desire to present these central thoughts as clearly 
and as vividly as possible. The questions that follow, there- 
fore, are intended to help you to appreciate, (i) the thought- 
content of each essay, and (2) the architecture by which the 
thought-content is made clear. 

150 Questions and Topics for Study 

1. What are the two central thoughts in this essay (see 
especially pages 38 and 44) ? 

2. What are some of the " great ideas " that you have ob- 
tained from science (botany, physiology, physics, or chemis- 

3. How does Huxley use the " two fearful calamities " to 
introduce the subject of this essay? 

4. Does the conclusion (page 45, line 27 to close) merely sum 
up, or does it make an appeal, or does it do both? 

A Liberal Education: and. Where to Find It (pages 47-73) 

1. What two questions does Huxley endeavor to answer in 
this essay (see especially pages 51 and 55) ? 

2. Memorize the answer to the first question as given in the 
paragraph on pages 54-55. 

3. Where did Huxley think a liberal education could be 
found ? 

4. If you do not play chess, see if you cannot substitute 
some game that you do understand in place of the metaphor 
employed in the paragraph on pages 51-52. 

5. What is the subject discussed in the introductory part of 
this essay (see end of page 50 and beginning of page 51) ? 
How do these introductory remarks lead up to the essay 
proper ? 

On a Piece of Chalk (pages 74-102) 

1. What is the great lesson which, 'after much deliberation* 
(page 76), Huxley endeavors to teach by a piece of chalk? 

2. How does he show (i) "that we have as strong grounds 
for believing that all the vast area of dry land, at present 
occupied by the chalk, was once at the bottom of the sea, 
as we have for any matter of history whatever" (pages 88- 
89); (2) "that the chalk sea existed during an extremely 
long period" (page 92); and (3) "that the earth, from the 
time of the chalk to the present day, has been the theater of a 
series of changes as vast in their amount, as they were slow 
in their progress" (pages 95-96)? 

3. What is the purpose of the introductory part of this 

4. With what striking comparison does Huxley close the essay? 

Questions and Topics for Study 151 

On Science and Art in Relation to Education (pages 103-124) 

1. What are the four " points which must be attended to " 
(page 109) in the teaching of science? 

2. Into what two groups does Huxley classify " all our men- 
tal furniture" (page 114)? 

3. Why do music, painting, and literature belong to both 
groups ? 

4. What kind of training would Huxley give if he " could 
make a clean sweep of everything and start afresh " (page 
120) ? 

5. What defense of himself does Huxley make in the in- 
troductory part of this essay (to page 107, line 12) ? 

6. What is the effect of the concluding short paragraph? 

1Reaoin0s for Scboote 

WILBUR L. CROSS, Yale University, General Editor 

Addison: Sir Roger de Coverley Papers. 

Edited by NATHANIEL E. GRIFFIN, Princeton University. 

Arnold: Sohrab and Rustum, and Other Poems. 
Edited by WALTER S. HINCHMAN, Groton School. 

Browning: Selections. 

Edited by CHARLES W. HODELL, Goucher College, Baltimore. 
Bunyan: Pilgrim's Progress, Part I. 

Edited by JOHN H. GARDINER. 
Burke: On Conciliation. 

Edited by DANIEL V. THOMPSON, Lawrenceville School. 
Byron: Prisoner of Chillon and Other Poems. 

Edited by HARDIN CRAIG, University of Minnesota. 
Carlyle: Essay on Burns. 

Edited by SOPHIE C. HART, Wellesley College. 

Defoe: Robinson Crusoe. 

Edited by WILBUR L. CROSS, Yale University. 

Dickens : Tale of Two Cities. 

Edited by E. H. KEMPER McCOMB, Manual Training High 
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Eliot: Silas Marner. 

Edited by ELLEN E. GARRIGUES, De Witt Clinton High 
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English Lyrics from Dryden to Burns. 

Edited by MORRIS W. CROLL, Princeton University. 

Franklin : Autobiography. 

Edited by FRANK W. PINE, Gilman Country School, Balti- 

Hughes: Tom Brown's School Days. 

Edited by W. H. LILLARD, Phillips Andover Academy. 

Huxley: Selections. 

Edited by CHARLES ALPHONSO SMITH, University of Virginia. 

Irving: Sketch Book. 

Edited by ARTHUR W. LEONARD, Phillips Academy, Andover, 

Macaulay: Life of Johnson. 

Edited by CHESTER N. GREENOUCH, Harvard University. 

Macaulay: Lord Clive and Warren Hastings. 

Edited by FREDERICK E. PIERCE, Yale University, and 
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Bngltsb 1Rea5ing0 for Scbools Continued 

Milton: L'Allegro, II Penseroso, Comus, and Lycidas. 
Edited by MARTIN W. SAMPSON, Cornell University. 

Old Testament Narratives. 

Edited by GEORGE H. NETTLETON, Yale University. 

Scott: Quentin Durward. 
Edited by THOMAS H. BRIGGS. 

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Edited by ALFRED A. MAY, High School of Commerce, New 
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Edited by ALFRED M. HITCHCOCK, Public High School, Hart- 
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Washington: Farewell Address, with Webster: First 
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